Apr 17, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Zijin Mining Group, which operates the Aurora Gold Mine (AGM) located in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), has denied allegations that COVID-19 infections recorded at the site are being handled poorly.
Speaking with this publication yesterday was the company’s Director of Corporate Office Compliance and Government Relations, Peter Benny. He related to this newspaper that infections have not been recorded at AGM since the end of February and among those infected then were a few asymptomatic cases.
Kaieteur News would have reported this week that the allegations in relation to the poor handling of the cases are currently being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Department of the Ministry of Labour.
A source had told this publication that a notable number of infections were recorded at AGM; however, the company has treated the situation lightly. This newspaper was told that management is operating as though it is business as usual.
Responding to that specific claim, Benny stated that as protocol, when an employee reports sick while at the worksite, they are interviewed immediately by the onsite doctors and would have a rapid antigen test conducted. If that employee tests positive, the company would then medivac that person to the Eugene F. Correia Airport and he or she is later transported to the David Memorial Hospital in Georgetown, where a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is conducted. The PCR test is said to be the gold standard for accurately detecting COVID-19.
Further to this, Benny addressed claims of employees not being informed that there are infected persons at the worksite until after they have left. He categorically stated that this is incorrect.
This publication was also told by the source that the company had set up a COVID-19 testing site at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport since it is used to transport workers into the mine. However, it was stated that there is a trail that can be used by vehicles to drive from Essequibo to AGM and since persons are not tested on that route, the source had believed that most of the cases came through there. Benny was keen to note however that at all entry points to AGM, persons are tested for the virus.
Benny also assured that contact tracing was done in instances where infections were found and to date, over 2,700 COVID-19 tests were conducted on employees. The company has over 800 employees according to Benny and they are tested every time they depart the worksite and return.
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