Bangladesh suspends coal production in largest mine as dozens catch Covid-19

Dhaka, July 30 (EFE)- Bangladesh’s largest coal mine suspended production after dozens of workers tested positive for Covid-19, authorities announced on Saturday.

The Managing director of Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Limited in northern Dinajpur district, Shaiful Islam Sarkar, told Efe that 34 out of 292 Chinese workers who underwent random checks on 28 July tested positive for Covid-19.

Earlier this week, 47 positives, including 14 Chinese workers, were detected after over 300 Bangladeshi and Chinese workers were tested before resuming scheduled coal extraction on July 27, Sarkar added.

There is a large number of Chinese workers in Bangladesh’s mining industry due to their expertise.

“Chinese workers are very sensitive about Covid and they don’t make any compromise about it,” Sarkar said.

“Workers work in a close proximity at the tunnel in mine. So, when we found many workers Covid positive we decided to test as many workers as possible,” he added.

Sarkar said that all Covid positive workers were sent into home isolation and the health conditions of none were serious.

About 700 workers, including 300 Chinese, work in the mine, which has a reserve of 390 million tons of coal.

Sarkar said that they extract between 2,000 to 2,200 tons of coal from the mine daily to supply a nearby thermal power plant.

Energy-starved Bangladesh last week suspended all of its diesel-fired power plants amid an economic crisis and was currently relying largely on coal for power generation.

“We are hoping that the Covid situation should be okay in 10-12 days. The amount of coal we have now in our stock, if they are used carefully the power production should not be disrupted,” Sarkar said.

Bangladesh on Saturday reported 349 fresh covid-19 cases and three deaths in 24 hours, way below 11,000 and 200 daily infections and fatalities respectively the Asian country registered a year ago. EFE


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