Concerns Over Omicron On Flights From South Africa
- Dozens of people arrived in Amsterdam from South Africa on Friday are likely infected with COVID-19.
- 600 passengers faced hours of delays and testing due to concerns over the new virus variant.
- Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.
Amsterdam: Hundreds of passengers who landed in Amsterdam on two planes from South Africa on Friday are likely sick with COVID-19, according to Dutch health officials, who are performing additional tests to check if anyone is infected with the recently found Omicron coronavirus variant.
On Friday, around 600 passengers landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on two KLM flights, only to be faced by hours of delays and testing owing to fears about a new virus variant. The Dutch health ministry estimated that there may be roughly 85 positive cases among the passengers based on preliminary tests.
Health authorities said in a statement, “Travelers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol. Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.” Early on Friday, the Dutch government banned all plane travel from southern Africa. Passengers already on their way to the Netherlands will be subjected to testing and quarantine upon arrival, according to Health Minister Hugo de Jonge.
The positive cases are being examined by a Dutch university medical facility to verify whether they are the new strain, according to a spokesperson for the health officials in Kennemerland, the Dutch province that oversees Schiphol. Separately, the Dutch government declared the midnight shutdown of clubs, restaurants, and most retailers on Friday as it battles a record-breaking surge of COVID-19 cases that is wreaking havoc on the country’s healthcare system.