Dutch find 61 new cases on South Africa flight, prompting test for Omicron variant

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Dutch health officials said on Saturday they had detected 61 COVID-19 cases in people who flew in from South Africa on Friday and are now conducting further tests to see if anyone is infected with the new Omicron variant. is infected.

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The cases were discovered among nearly 600 passengers who arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on two flights on Friday before the Dutch government halted air traffic from southern Africa due to concerns over the variant.

Dutch health officials said on Saturday they would also like to contact travelers who had arrived from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe from Monday and urge them to undergo a test as soon as possible.

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Passengers on Friday’s flights were isolated from other passengers and those who tested positive are being kept in isolation at a hotel near the airport.

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A health ministry spokesman said it would not be known until after Saturday whether any travelers were infected with the new version.

A spokesman for KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France, said the airline was trying to determine how to prevent people with COVID-19 infections on flights departing from Cape Town and Johannesburg as of Friday morning. What rules were in force?

The rules on the company’s website state that passengers were required to submit a negative COVID-19 “rapid antigen” test result 24 hours prior to departure, but were not required to show proof of vaccination.

‘really weird’

Paula Zimmermann, a Dutch photographer who returned from a family trip to South Africa on Friday morning, said the condition of passengers on the planes was chaotic, as they were kept waiting in the tarmac and terminals for hours.

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Zimmerman was told that her test was negative at 4 a.m., about 18 hours after landing in Amsterdam, but said she then learned she was standing right next to a man she knew had contracted the infection. has tested positive for

“It was really weird. There was no coordination. There were very few people and there was really no one who would have controlled.”

She said several infected passengers after spending hours on a flight left Zimmerman worried for days to come.

“I have been told that they expect a lot more people to test positive after five days. The thought is a little scary that you’re on a plane with a lot of people who have tested positive. The Dutch flight ban does not mean that all flights from southern Africa to the Netherlands have been halted, as Dutch nationals are allowed to return home, while EU citizens are allowed to enter transit in their home countries.

Medical staff, airline crew and people in extreme need are also still allowed to travel. KLM will continue flights to the region, but passengers need to be in quarantine for at least five days upon arrival in the Netherlands.

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new version https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/what-we-know-about-covid-19-variant-detected-south-africa-2021-11-26 It turns out that as many European countries are battling with a rise in coronavirus cases.

Dutch government on Friday announced Closing bars, restaurants and most shops through the night as it tries to contain a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is swallowing up its health system.

(Reporting by Toby Stirling, Bart Meijer and Johnny Cotton. Editing by Francis Carey)

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