May 16, 2020 / 8:36 AM / 10 days ago

Slovakia lifts last Roma settlement quarantine

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia lifted a quarantine on the last of five Roma settlements that were closed off in April to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, a member of the European Parliament and the country’s permanent crisis committee said.

“I would like to thank you for enduring this and for being patient and responsible. Stay careful,” Peter Pollak, who is himself a Roma, told inhabitants at the settlement in a Facebook video posted on Friday.

Residents of the Zehra settlement in the country’s east were quarantined for 37 days. The quarantine was lifted on Friday, Pollak said.

The crisis committee decided to lift the quarantine after testing all inhabitants and moving 16 infected people and their families to a temporary quarantine centre, which was already housing 26 infected people and their relatives.

Quarantines in one settlement ended on April 25 and in another three on May 1.

Roma communities across eastern Europe are impoverished, plagued by high unemployment and historically the target of discrimination, making the coronavirus outbreak another challenge for the ethnic minority.

As of Thursday, Slovakia had reported 1,480 confirmed coronavirus cases and 27 deaths. The country has fewer cases than its neighbours and has recorded one of the lowest death tolls per capita in Europe after the government moved quickly to impose tough restrictions in the early days of the outbreak in Europe.

Reporting by Tomas Mrva; Editing by Sam Holmes

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