Several dozens of travelers from South Africa to Netherlands test positive for Covid on arrival


On Friday, two KLM flights reached Schiphol Airport carrying 600 passengers from Cape Town and Johannesburg. The Netherlands health authorities conducted COVID-19 tests and 61 of these passengers tested positive. These flights had left the airports before the Dutch government had stopped flights from the region due to concerns on the new variant Omicron which has recently emerged from the region.

These passengers were kept in separate areas, away from other travelers who had arrived at the airport from different destinations. Those who tested positive were isolated and moved to a hotel near the Dutch airport.

Those who tested positive have to undergo quarantine at a hotel for seven days if they exhibit symptoms and for five days if they did not have any symptoms. Those who tested negative have been requested to isolate for five days at their home and then get tested again. Those who were in transit were allowed to resume their journeys.

A Dutch health ministry spokesperson said that testing for the new variant was in process and the results would be available by late Saturday. A spokesperson for the Kennemerland health authorities said that the National Institute for Health (RIVM) was analyzing the positive cases. Schipol comes under Kennemerland region in the Netherlands.

Passengers on the flights said that they had to wait on the tarmac for hours and they had not been given food and water for a while.

Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19 was classified as a variant of concern, on Friday by the World Health Organization. Cases have already been seen in the U.K., Germany and other countries in the region. Europe has already seen an increase in COVID-19 cases before passengers with the new variant traveled to the bloc.

On Friday, the Dutch government announced partial lockdowns. Bars, restaurants and other stores would shut down earlier than before. The lockdowns will be put in place from 17:00 to 5:00 and are expected to continue at least up to December 19. The uprise in cases has swamped the health care system and curbs could help manage the growing number of cases as winter looms in the region.

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