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Papua New Guinea: Ok Tedi mine closes as Covid-19 cases spread to new areas

" Papua New Guinea's massive Ok Tedi mine closes as Covid cases spread to new areas", 6 August 2020

Cases of Covid-19 in Papua New Guinea have spread to new provinces, forcing the closure of the massive Ok Tedi mine, and sparking warnings that a surge in infections, potentially in the thousands, could strike the country in the next few months.

Seven workers at the Ok Tedi mine near the Indonesian border have tested positive to Covid-19. The mine has traced the infections back to a single worker who is believed to have contracted the virus from a person who had flown from Port Moresby to Kiunga on a commercial flight late last month.

“The employee is currently working in our operations, travelling to and from work on buses. It is likely that more people have been infected, giving rise to an unacceptable risk of accelerated transmission within the Ok Tedi workforce,” the mine’s chief executive Musje Werror said in a statement.

Ok Tedi mine – a hugely profitable gold and copper mine worth billions to the PNG government’s already-parlous finances – will be shut for “at least 14 days to limit further transmission and allow contact tracing, isolation and testing procedures to be implemented”.

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