Putin Sends Army to Fight Siberian Gold Mine Virus Outbreak

(Bloomberg) --

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the army to help the country’s largest gold miner, Polyus PJSC, fight a Covid-19 outbreak at its Siberian unit.

Military personnel and more than 2 tons of medical equipment, including respirators, masks, gloves and protective suits, were air-lifted to the city of Krasnoyarsk, the defense ministry said on its website. Those staff, including 77 doctors and nurses, will set up a field camp and mobile hospital near Olimpiada, Russia’s biggest gold mine.

Olimpiada employs about 6,000 people, including contractors and temporary workers, some of whom live in shift camps. Infections have climbed to 866, almost half the total for the Krasnoyarsk region. That won’t stop the mine from operating, RIA Novosti reported Polyus Chief Executive Officer Pavel Grachev telling journalists while visiting the operation. Shift workers are being isolated before starting work, he said.

The company is re-testing workers who initially tested positive Covid-19 and those in risk groups, a Polyus spokesman said. Most of the infected people aren’t showing symptoms.

In Eruda, a village close to the mine, the army and the government provided about 1,500 beds for possible hospitalization, regional Governor Alexander Uss said. The number of medical specialists will be increased to 100 shortly, according to Ria Novosti.

Olimpiada has proven and probable reserves of 26 million ounces of gold.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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