Hospitals and other medical facilities run by South African mining companies, which have expertise in screening for and treating tuberculosis, are being examined for use to treat coronavirus patients.
The hospitals could be made available to both industry employees and the wider public, the Minerals Council, which represents most mining companies operating in the country, said in a statement.
The number of people who have tested positive for the disease jumped to 116 on Wednesday, according to the health department.
South African mines have large numbers of workers with tuberculosis, a result of the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic and the damage inflicted by silica particles on the lungs of gold miners. Due to the large concentration of workers in often remote locations, they have their own health facilities.
South African mining companies, such as Sibanye Stillwater and Anglo American, employ 455 000 workers.
An initial 2 000 beds have been identified that could be utilized for patients with mild symptoms who need isolation, while 400 beds are available for severe cases, said Charmane Russell, a spokesperson for the council. The number will grow as more assessments are made, she said.