Serbian police detain care centre head over coronavirus outbreak

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - The director of a state-run centre for the care of the elderly where there has been a coronavirus outbreak was detained by Serbian police on Monday and charged with both "an aggravated crime against public health" and spreading diseases.

Serbia's interior ministry said that the man, who under Serbian law was only identified by his initials, was charged after 139 people were infected with the coronavirus at the centre located in the southern city of Nis.

Neither M.S. nor his lawyers could be reached for comment.

Branislav Tiodorovic, a 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 people who lived in the centre and four staff have so far suffered from mild symptoms of the coronavirus, which has so far killed 85 people in Serbia.

Of 20,985 people tested in the country, 4,054 have been found to have contracted the disease, including dozens of doctors and nurses, .

To counter the spread of the coronavirus, Serbia 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.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Alexander Smith)