Dundee employees suffer from stomach aches after consuming unfit water

Martin Endjala

Dundee Precious Metals (DPM), a smelting company in Tsumeb, has confirmed that five of its employees were recently treated for stomach illness after consuming poor-quality water at the site of the facility.

The company’s Communications Manager Alina Garises, announced last week that the company took immediate action to address the water quality that resulted in minor gastro-intestinal illnesses among some employees.

She said that as part of the company’s routine water management plan, they previously detected that the quality of water was out of specification in its water systems in December 2022. Then the authority accountable for domestic water in Tsumeb was informed immediately and the company began providing dispenser water for drinking on-site for our employees.

“In mid-August 2023, some employees reported nausea and vomiting believed to be due to drinking water. The affected employees received treatment from the on-site clinic at DPM Tsumeb as well as the local health facilities and have completely recovered.

The situation is under control and no new cases have been reported since August 23. In the handling of our onsite dispenser water, we provide to our employees, our controls were inadequate leading to our onsite water quality being out of specification for microbiology,” said Garises.

She added that the company is committed to employee health and safety, and has taken additional steps to prevent similar outbreaks such as communicating to workers and service providers about the importance of hand hygiene, food safety practices and early treatment should they fall ill. Installation of a reservoir tank to ensure adequate water supply for to employees with specific control measures to ensure water remains safe.

Garises further explained that DPM Tsumeb continues to investigate the outbreak and has learned that it was not limited to their site after discovering that local private hospitals treated a total of 25 patients with similar symptoms, five of whom were DPM Tsumeb employees. While public hospital treated 23 DPM Tsumeb employees and five cases were from other parts of Tsumeb.

“The public state hospital has not seen any further cases from Dundee since 19 August 2023. DPM Tsumeb is committed to ensuring safe drinking water is provided to our employees. We will continue our program of regular water testing, maintain proper water distribution systems for our workers and work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure the well-being of employees and the community,” she added.

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