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Confirmed Covid cases at Freeport cluster in Papua pass 100

Radio New Zealand - May 13, 2020

The mining company PT Freeport Indonesia has increased efforts to test for, and treat people with Covid-19, in Papua.

The number of confirmed covid-19 cases in Mimika regency, where Freeport operates one of the world's largest gold and copper mines, has reached 110.

Local health officials have reported dozens of new cases in the past week in the regency, mostly connected to the local operations of Freeport.

It is the biggest cluster of cases in Papua province whose overall confirmed covid-19 cases reached 322 yesterday, according to Indonesia's Health Ministry.

Freeport's Grasberg mine operations employ thousands of workers, many of whom travel back and forth from other parts of Indonesia and overseas.

Boosting testing and contact tracing in a bid to stop the spread of the virus, Freeport said it had also increased the capacity of treatment and isolation rooms at Tembagapura Hospital, as well as ventilators.

A statement released by the mining company said it was doing extensive testing to help maintain safety among its employees, who number over 25,000.

"We now have approximately 50,000 rapid and PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test kits at the jobsite, which allows PTFI to quickly detect and isolate those who have been infected, provide necessary medical treatment and take appropriate mitigation measures."

Freeport said it was also providing greater testing capacity for the wider community in Mimika to alleviate the pandemic's burden on the public health system.

It said treatment of confirmed cases had been working well, and the recovery rate of those infected was good.

Three people with confirmed covid cases have died in Mimika of the six overall deaths in Papua to date.

Source: https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/416517/confirmed-covid-cases-at-freeport-cluster-in-papua-pass-10