Dozens on South Africa flights test positive for COVID in Netherlands

Nov 28, 2021: 

Dutch health officials say they have detected 61 COVID-19 cases among people flying from South Africa and say they believe some of the infections are of the new omicron variety.

In a statement Saturday, the Dutch Health Authority (GDD) said the cases were found in 624 passengers who arrived at Amsterdam’s Sheffield Airport on Friday on two flights.

That was before the Dutch government restricted air traffic from southern Africa due to concerns over the new COVID variant.

A spokesman for the National Institute for Public Health (RVIM), meanwhile, said the agency was “almost certain” that the cases were of the new variant, but said further investigations were needed to be sure. The results are expected to be released on Sunday.

Those who test positive are now isolated in a hotel near the airport. A spokesman for Air France’s Dutch arm KLM said passengers on board the flight had either tested negative or had shown evidence of vaccination before boarding the plane in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The spokesperson said it was possible many of the positive cases were among vaccinated people, or that an unusual number of people developed infections after having tested negative.

Dutch health authorities were seeking to contact some 5,000 other passengers who have travelled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe since Monday to urge them to take a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

Dutch citizens are still allowed to return home from South Africa, while EU citizens are allowed to enter their home countries through transit. Medical staff, airline staff and most important people are also allowed to travel. KLM will continue flights to the region, but all passengers will now have to undergo a negative test before departure and then be quarantined for at least five days upon arrival in the Netherlands.

A new strain has been discovered because many European countries are experiencing an increase in cases of COVID-19.

The Dutch government announced the closure of bars, restaurants and most stores on Friday night as it seeks to stem the record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases affecting its healthcare system.

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