RIVM: Omicron coronavirus variant likely in the Netherlands
The Omicron coronavirus variant has likely been diagnosed in many of the 61 travelers who entered the Netherlands on flights from South Africa on Friday, the RIVM said. The two flights carrying 624 people included more than five dozen who tested positive for the coronavirus infection.
The full results of all suspect test samples will be announced on Sunday. “These passengers are in quarantine,” the RIVM confirmed. The GGD said on Friday they would be kept in hotels, and guards would be present at the facilities.
The RIVM reiterated that all passengers who arrived in the Netherlands on or after Monday, November 22, should be tested for coronavirus if they were recently Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. They should get tested even if they do not have symptoms.
More than a hundred passengers who wanted to fly to Schiphol were left behind in Johannesburg, and were not allowed to board their KLM flight on Friday evening. When KLM inspected the negative PCR test statement of all passengers, it turned out that more than a hundred travelers did not meet entry requirements, according to the airline.
Roughly 160 travelers were allowed to join the flight to Schiphol on Saturday after it was determined they met the requirements set by the Dutch government. The GGD tested them on arrival, KLM reported. The airline checked the negative test statements of the passengers, because South Africa was classified as a country with a very high risk for the coronavirus infection.
After the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Southern Africa, the Dutch government imposed a flight ban for South Africa on Friday. Dutch nationals and EU citizens who are in transit to their country of residence are exempt from this ban.
Passengers who fall under this exception rule must be able to show a negative rapid test no more than 24 hours old, and they must be able to provide either a negative PCR test taken within 24 hours of entering the airport, or a maximum of 48 hours after arrival in the Netherlands.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.