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Putin orders Russian army to help contain COVID-19 outbreak at country’s largest gold mine

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Photo courtesy of Polyus

(Kitco News) The Russian army and its medical personnel are being dispatched to Russia’s largest gold mine, Olimpiada, to help contain a coronavirus outbreak. 

Located in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai, Olimpiada employed around 6,000 people. The mine is run by Russia’s largest gold producer, Polyus.

Polyus said that so far 866 peopled tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,790 tested negative. Majority of those who tested positive are not showing any symptoms, according to Russian media reports. 

Polyus is the only company in the region that will be testing all of its workers for the coronavirus infection, the reports said. 

To help the mining company deal with the local outbreak, Russia’s Ministry of Defence is sending military personnel and more than two tons of medical equipment, including respirators, masks, gloves and protective suits, the ministry said on its website on Monday. 

A total of 400 military personnel has already arrived along with 77 doctors and nurses.

One of the first tasks at hand is to establish a mobile hospital with 1,100 beds. Currently, the mine has a makeshift hospital that can take up to 737 people. 

Russia’s Ministry of Defence noted that the order has come from Russian President Vladimir Putin. The goal is to contain the spread of the infection in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk Krai.

The mine is not planning to halt operations, RIA Novosti quoted Polyus Chief Executive Officer Pavel Grachev as saying this week.

Olimpiada has 26 million ounces of proven and probable gold reserves. 

Russia’s coronavirus cases have been rising at an exponential pace these past few weeks. Right now, it is in second spot, behind the U.S., in terms of the number of coronavirus cases, with a total of 308,705 infected and at least 2,972 deaths. The U.S. currently has 1,579,194 cases with at least 94,149 deaths.