INVESTORS AND MEDIA Media releases
Wearing a mask and washing or sanitizing hands can save lives
Westonaria, 13 July 2020: Gold Fields South Deep Mine is deeply concerned by the increase in the number of individuals in our communities who are not wearing masks and maintaining social distance in public. While the mine is humbled by the immense support displayed by surrounding communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic will be with us for some time to come and many people will continue to be affected. Minimising the impact on the health of our people and our public health systems will require diligence by each and every individual in maintaining the behaviours we know can help stop the spread of the virus.
Extensive studies by medical experts the world over have shown that the following behaviours can save lives:
Puseletso Matete, Head of Sustainable Development and Environment at Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine notes: “We are observing that many people are failing to wear masks when they leave their homes, ignoring social distancing guidelines and exposing themselves and others to high-risk situations such as group gatherings, often in confined spaces where the virus can easily spread. It has been proven that big funerals and public gatherings are super-spreaders of the coronavirus.”
As the Coronavirus takes hold in Gauteng, there has been a significant escalation in positive cases, including in people under the age of 60 and without existing health conditions, with some of these resulting in death.
“Our communities have shown such care and compassion until now. We call on all our people – our employees and our communities - to not become complacent and to diligently practice good behaviour such as wearing masks in public. With the number of deaths and infections rising daily in our country and our province, the importance of wearing masks cannot be stressed enough,” says Matete.
South Deep recognises its responsibility to provide support and resources to communities and has, through partnerships with local companies such as StitchWise and non-government organisations, provided tens of thousands of masks to community members and will continue to do so as just one of its services to the community.
In terms of ensuring the health and safety of employees at work, South Deep has implemented protocols and a risk-based testing strategy that are intended to limit the spread of the Coronavirus at the mine. Employees screen and self-declare their health status every day before coming on site and those who suspect they may be positive, and who subsequently test positive, are isolated for the recommended 14 days. For those going about their work on site, stringent processes are in place for social distancing, maintaining good hygiene, wearing masks and other personal protective equipment and sanitising of work areas. These behaviours have become more, not less, critical at Lockdown Level 3.
Maintaining this behaviour on site is of no benefit if it is not practiced when our people return to their communities.
“As employees and members of our communities, we all have a responsibility to work together to protect ourselves, our critical health-care workers, law enforcement, personnel and others by following the right behaviours, every day, wherever we are. The Minister of Health has warned that “the COVID-19 storm that he has been warning South Africa about has arrived”. It is up to everyone of us to be more responsible and diligent more than ever before,” concludes Matete.