Seventeen workers at the South32 Appin Colliery in New South Wales, west of Sydney, have contracted COVID-19, sending the underground miners into a quarantine.

According to ABC News Australia, the “cluster” of coronavirus was first discovered last Thursday, 16 December, when a miner arrived for an afternoon shift and tested positive on his mandated on-site pre-shift testing. As he was in close contact with others, those individuals were also tested and a total of 17 positives were confirmed.

A South32 spokesperson told the news outlet that the company is working with NSW Health Department directions and is supporting its staff. It also has had a mandate in place over the last year for mask wearing and staggered shifts.

Mining and Energy Union Southwest District Secretary Andy Davey said it was those practices that helped contain the cluster.

"It's thrown a cat amongst the pigeons," he said. "It's unfortunate that it's this time of year, and we feel for our members coming into Christmas.”

ABC News reported that the mine’s operations have not been impacted by the outbreak.

Source: ABC News Australia