Yesterday. Czech officials suspended work at the Darkov coal mine in the eastern city of Karviná, following 212 positive tests for Covid-19 among the mine’s workforce.
The shutdown follows weeks of growing concern over the spread of the virus at the mine, with confirmed cases of Covid-19 growing from 11 on 15 May to 84 by 19 May, and now over 200 just weeks later. Following the first set of positive tests, the mine’s operator, state-owned OKD, tightened hygiene measures at the project, including mandatory protective gear and regular health checks for workers, but these policies seem to have done little to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Karviná in general has been hit particularly hard by the virus, with the local government banning public gatherings of more than 100 people, compared to a ban on groups of 300 people elsewhere in Czechia, and there are concerns that the spread of Covid-19 among mineworkers will worsen this trend. Over 1,000 friends and family members of affected miners have been placed into quarantine following the shutdown, according to City Spy Prague.
The Darkov mine is a key component of the country’s coal industry; OKD is Czechia’s only producer of hard coal, and the mine is capable of processing up to 800 tonnes of ore per hour, retrieved from a shaft over one kilometre deep.