Serbian police have detained the director of a state-run centre for the care of the elderly where there has been a coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s interior ministry said in a statement on Monday that the man, who under Serbian law was only identified by his initials M S, was charged with both “an aggravated crime against public health” and spreading diseases after 139 people were infected with coronavirus at the facility located in the southern city of Nis.
“It is suspected that he, as the authorised person of the Gerontology Center in Nis, did not take all necessary measures and actions to prevent the spread of infectious disease COVID-19,” the ministry added.
Branislav Tiodorovic, an epidemiologist in charge of Serbia’s southern region, told a news conference that a “lack of discipline” and the “allowing of walks outside and visits” had led to the outbreak in the gerontology centre.
Most of the 135 infected residents of the centre, along with four staff, have so far suffered from mild symptoms of the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19.
Of 20,985 people tested in Serbia, 4,054 have been found to have contracted the disease, including dozens of doctors and nurses. Eighty people have died.
To counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Serbia has introduced strict measures, including a state of emergency, the closure of borders and a curfew. It has also adapted exhibition and sports halls to isolate patients with mild symptoms of the disease.