There is growing concern about coronavirus infections in mining areas in the North West.
The two hotspots, the Rustenburg based Bojanala District Municipality and the Klerksdorp based Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, have recorded 1137 of the 1402 infections in the province.
The bustling mining town of Rustenburg whose platinum riches have attracted a plethora of job seekers has now become a hotspot for coronavirus infections.
A recent case led to the temporary closure of a local police station.
In the video below, Deputy President David Mabuza expresses concerns about rising infections in mines:
Residents living in fear
As infections surpass the 1 000 mark, residents say they are afraid especially since regulations around social distancing and the wearing of masks are not adhered to.
“The situation here in Rustenburg is very bad. There is no physical distancing at all,” says one resident.
Another resident says, “I am really worried about school children because they are now going to school and this virus is everywhere.”
Business owners struggling to keep afloat
Local businesses are worried as many of them might be forced to close their doors.
Chairperson of the Rustenburg Chamber of Commerce Pieter Malan says the situation can only get worse.
“It is yet uncertain to what extent businesses will close down and how many will continue to be in operation. Some are still under lockdown. There is a lot of uncertainty, we just don’t know. We hear the medical projections that infections are not going to stop because the lockdowns are stopping. It’s the rate of increase that is being managed and we still expect to see a lot of that in the coming months. So the crisis is definitely not over.”
Closure of shops
In Klerksdorp in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, some local stores were closed after employees reportedly contracted the virus, leaving many customers worried.
Others blame the mines for the spread of the virus.
National Union of Mineworkers Secretary in the Matlosana region Masibulele Naki says regulations in the mines should be enforced better, while Health MEC Madoda Sambatha says they will recommend that mines be closed if the spread cannot be contained.
Medical expert from the North West University Professor Andrew Robinson believes that the Health Department should improve its wellness programmes.
With infections in the province steadily climbing, residents are urged to practice social distancing, wear a mask in public places and adhere to lockdown regulations.
-Additional reporting by Sentleeng Lehihi