On 13 November 2020, Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases (“Official Gazette of the RS”, No. 15/2016, 68/2020 and 136/2020) (the “Law“) entered into force. The Law was adopted on the previous day at the session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
In accordance with the new situation in the world and in the country, new terms have been introduced in the Law, such as “countries with unfavourable epidemiological situation”, “personal protection against infection”, “home isolation” and “quarantine at home”. The last three newly introduced measures also represent special measures for the protection of the population from infectious diseases. Also, COVID-19 has been added to the list of diseases that are subject to epidemiological surveillance and against which prevention and control measures are applied.
The Law provides for measures of personal protection against infection that include such acts or refrain from acts that are aimed at protecting one’s own and others’ health and life from infectious diseases, and which especially implies the obligation to use personal protective means in accordance with the nature of the disease, certain indoor and/or outdoor behaviour, at public and private gatherings and other prescribed measures of personal protection that prevent or suppress the spread of infectious diseases. Legal entities and entrepreneurs who perform activities in facilities where other persons reside are obliged to undertake actions and activities for the application of measures of personal protection, as well as to designate a person responsible for the direct application of these measures. Measures of personal protection against infection aimed at protecting one’s own and others’ health and life from an infectious disease are to be applied by all persons, in accordance with the regulations, during the time of the declared epidemic.
Home isolation is a measure that requires treatment at home and restricts the freedom of movement of patients with infectious disease who are not diagnosed with any symptoms or signs of infectious disease and persons suffering from infectious diseases whose state of the disease does not require hospital treatment during period of contagion. This measure is ordered by a doctor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases, or another doctor of medicine in accordance with the order of the Minister, who informs the territorially competent epidemiologist of the institute, i.e. the institute of public health or the health centre.
The Law also defines quarantine at home as a measure that restricts freedom of movement and requires monitoring of the health status of healthy persons who were or are suspected of being in contact with persons infected with a contagious disease, unless a quarantine measure is imposed on those persons. The doctor of medicine – a specialist in epidemiology of the competent bureau, i.e. the institute for public health or other competent health institution, determines which persons are subject to quarantine at home measure.
The quarantine at home measure can also be applied to passengers in international traffic who enter the Republic of Serbia from countries with an unfavourable epidemiological situation.
As with the quarantine measure, employed persons who have been imposed with the quarantine at home measure are entitled to appropriate compensation of salary, i.e. remuneration, in accordance with the law, for the time spent in quarantine at home, and the decision of the sanitary inspector on determining the quarantine at home measure also represents a certificate of incapacity for work while such measure lasts. In case such measure is imposed on a child under 14 years of age or a person who is unable to take care of himself/herself and protect their rights and interests, the decision is issued to the parent, i.e. the guardian, which decision at the same time represents a certificate of incapacity for work while such measure determined by that decision lasts.
The Law also envisages a preventive measure of restricting the freedom of movement of persons in collective accommodation with the aim of preventing the entry of the infection into the collective, which measure is ordered by the Minister and which can be ordered for all types and all collective accommodation facilities or especially for collectives where the persons with increased risk of severe forms of disease and death due to infection are accommodated. The sanitary inspector controls the application of this measure.
The law expands the possibility of determining the recommended or mandatory emergency immunization for all persons, i.e. for certain categories of persons to “other infectious diseases” (in addition to the situations that have been listed so far), in case the risk of transmission of that infectious disease is determined, as well as in case when certain infectious diseases have entered the country, in accordance with plans for elimination and maintenance of the eradication status of certain infectious diseases.
In addition to the sanitary inspection, both the communal inspection and the communal police will be responsible for the implementation of the penal policy for both natural and legal persons.
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