The government has formally declared Črna na Koroškem, site of a major coronavirus outbreak at a residential facility for people with mental disabilities, Slovenia’s first Covid-19 danger zone. The declaration, effective on Wednesday, makes the municipality eligible for aid but does not involve restrictions on movement.
The relevant decree was published in the Official Gazette late on Tuesday and took effect today without the knowledge of the local community, with Health Minister Tomaž Gantar saying the move was urgent due to the deterioration of the situation in the municipality.
“It will make things easier… All it means is the possibility of extra staffing assistance and fewer legal obstacles,” the minister said in Slovenj Gradec, one of the stops on the government’s day-long tour of the Koroška region.
Črna na Koroškem, a municipality in the north-east along the border with Austria, has had the highest infection rate among all Slovenian municipalities.
According to the latest data, almost 1.5% of the population was classified as active Covid-19 cases yesterday after over 100 the residents, staff and volunteers at the facility for people with mental disabilities became infected.
Gantar visited Črna and the facility for people with mental disabilities today along with Minister of Labour, the Family and Social Affairs Janez Cigler Kralj, with the latter saying that the government was there to help.
He added that the decision to declare the town a Covid-19 danger zone was important as the facility would be able to get assistance from other similar institutions and nursing homes in the vicinity.
A list of ten staff has already been prepared, and an external location has also been secured in a nearby education centre so that this vulnerable group gets the necessary protection, the health minister added.
Gantar was also acquainted with the overall epidemiological situation in Koroška and in particular in Črna, saying he was happy that there were not many hospitalisations despite the relatively high number of infections.
Črna Mayor Romana Lesjak said regarding the declaration that it did not relate so much to the population, but more to the welfare facility, which would be able to get professional and staff assistance, and additional protective equipment.
“If this is so, we welcome the decree, because we think that the centre, whose residents come from the entire Slovenia, deserves state aid and the burden relieved from its overworked staff,” she added.
According to her, 79 infections have been confirmed in the facility among the residents and 29 among the staff. When it comes to the overall population in the town, the numbers are comparable to other municipalities of similar size.