July 21, 2020 / 12:39 AM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-Mexican miner Autlan registers 85 coronavirus cases

(Adds details)

By Noe Torres

MEXICO CITY, July 20 (Reuters) - Mexican mining company Compania Minera Autlan has registered dozens of cases of the novel coronavirus in the central state of Puebla, an official and the company said on Monday, making it one of the worst clusters by a single company in the country.

Carlos Peredo, mayor of the Teziutlan municipality, where the Autlan unit is located, said company executives informed him last week of 84 confirmed cases and an additional “pneumonia” case.

The company later said 85 people were infected with the coronavirus.

“We don’t know what caused it,” Peredo said in a phone interview. “We presume it was meetings outside of work.” Official data showed the municipality had a total of 160 confirmed cases as of Sunday and seven deaths.

Compania Minera Autlán, the main producer of metal alloys for the steel industry in Mexico, said the contagions were detected almost 15 days ago by a laboratory that examined all its staff.

“Authorities were immediately notified and all the (infected) workers were withdrawn,” the company said in a statement in response to questions, adding that all its plants continued to operate smoothly.

Peredo said the facility in Teziutlan employs about 325 workers in the community of 130,000 inhabitants. Teziutlan is located in the northern highlands of Puebla, one of the country’s hardest-hit states.

In late June, Volkswagen’s Mexico unit said 2% of its employees had tested positive for the coronavirus at its Puebla facility, which employs nearly 11,500 staff.

Mexico’s industry resumed operations in early June, after being halted for two months by the epidemic. Miners committed to implement strict sanitary protocols to guarantee the health of workers. (Reporting by Noe Torres; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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