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Covid-19 shuts down Coke's biggest manufacturing plant in Gauteng

  • Staff Writer: Tebogo Monama, Chulumanco Mahamba and Bongani Hans

Beverage giant Coca-Cola has been forced to shut down one of its biggest manufacturing plants in Gauteng after an employee tested positive for Covid-19.

This while two Netcare hospitals, one in Joburg and another in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), are temporarily shutting their doors to new patients.

According to latest Covid-19 figures released on Wednesday night, Gauteng leads in number of infections with 930 followed by the Western Cape at 657 and KZN at 519. The total national infections stands at 2 506, with 34 confirmed deaths.

According to an internal memo sent to employees at the Coca-Cola’s Devland manufacturing plant on Monday, a worker with the respiratory disease was on the site on Sunday.

 “We have already initiated a tracing process to identify all employees who may have been in contact with the positive colleague, these employees will undergo testing,” said managing director Velaphi Ratshefola.

“We have increased rigid health and safety protocols as well as awareness to ensure the well-being of all within our operations. Upon entering our sites, all employees and visitors have their temperature taken and undergo a short questionnaire. Individuals displaying flu-like symptoms or with a temperature over 37.5C are not allowed entry to our sites,” Ratshefola added.

The plant has 222 employees. Coca Cola currently has 14 plants operating nationally.

In the latest news, City Power was forced to shut its doors yesterday after an employee at the entity’s main warehouse in Reuven, Booysens, tested positive for Covid-19. The person is in self-isolation at home.

The entity is now tracing all employees who might have been in contact with the sick person, while co-workers who have been in direct contact with this employee have been asked to self-quarantine by staying at home for the next 14 days.

“The main warehouse at Reuven, where the employee was working, has been closed and will reopen 72 hours after the process of decontamination has been completed,” said environment and infrastructure MMC Mpho Moerane.

Meanwhile, Mediclinic Morningside announced yesterday it would not accept new admissions, apart from emergencies, to reduce the transmission of coronavirus in the facility.

The hospital said four patients and 15 staff members, including nine health-care workers, tested positive for the virus and were currently isolated.

Mediclinic Southern Africa chief clinical officer Dr Stefan Smuts said testing had been expanded and would continue until everyone on site had been tested, including all patients, doctors, employees and service providers based at the hospital.

In KZN, the Health Department is monitoring another Netcare hospital – Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti – which is said to have stopped taking in new patients after discovering a Covid-19 case in one of its wards.

This is Netcare’s second hospital to be forced to cancel new patient intake after St Augustine’s in Durban had to temporarily close most of the sections after testing 66 people, including 48 members.

KZN health spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane said: “We have sent a team of senior departmental officials to investigate as well as establish how the hospital was managing the situation.

"These latest developments will also form part of the ongoing investigation involving St Augustine’s.”

Netcare’s provincial director, Craig Murphy, said a patient, who tested positive, had been admitted on April 4 for a suspected stroke.

The patient’s result came back positive on April 8.