Couple who left quarantine blames officials for bad communication; Mayor irritated
The couple arrested on a plane at Schiphol on Sunday for leaving the quarantine hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 when they returned from South Africa on Friday said they did not escape quarantine. According to them, nobody told them the rules. Mayor Marianne Schuurmans of Haarlemmermeer said the couple refused to comply with the quarantine rules from the start. The couple has to appear in court on Tuesday, they said to BNR.
"The suggestion that we escaped quarantine is too ridiculous for words," Carolina Pimenta from Spain said in an interview with RTL Nieuws. "No one told us what the rules are. We were treated like dogs." She is a biomedical researcher. "Not a hair on my head would think of doing something that would endanger the health of others. I know how important it is that everyone abide by the rules in this crisis. But then we need to know what those rules are exactly."
She and her partner for Portugal landed at Schiphol on Friday from South Africa. They were transfer passengers and would have taken a plane to Spain. But she tested positive for Covid-19. She was taken to a hotel near Schiphol to quarantine with the other 60 passengers who also tested positive. Her boyfriend tested negative but went with her because they wanted to stay together, she said. Because her boyfriend tested negative, Pimenta was convinced that her Covid-19 test was a false positive. But according to her, the GGD refused to give her another PCR test. So she bought self-tests and tested negative twice, she said.
"So [Sunday] I went to the GGD employee and the security guard downstairs in the hotel and said: I would like to have another PCR test, but it seems that no one is listening to us. What would you do? And they literally said: If we were in your position, we would just leave. Then I asked again to be sure: can we get in trouble for that? No, they said," Pimenta said to RTL.
They managed to board a plane to Spain with no problem. How exactly - since her last PCR test results showed she tested positive for Covid-19 - she did not say. But then the Koninklijke Marechaussee came on board and arrested them "with much fuss and shouting" and "like a criminal," Pimenta said. According to her, the Marechaussee said they were arrested for evading the quarantine rules, but a police officer later said: "you can go, sorry for everything."
They were taken to a mandatory quarantine room in a hospital in Haren. There they were tested again for Covid-19 with a PCR test and tested negative, according to RTL.
Before the Security Council meeting on Monday, Haarlemmermeer mayor Schuurmans said that she arranged the couple's detainment because they could pose a risk to public health. The Netherlands takes extra precautions around travelers from southern Africa who test positive for Covid-19 due to the new Omicron coronavirus variant recently identified in the region.
According to Schuurmans, the man and woman fought the quarantine rules from the start, "but our rules apply." "They indicated that they did not want to accept that. We asked them to please do so anyway." Schuurmans said she tried to confirm the couple's story with the Koninklijke Marechaussee, the GGD, and the police. But they do not "recognize" the story at all, she said.
The couple told BNR that they have to appear in court on Tuesday and that they do not know what the charges are against them. A State-appointed attorney will represent them, the broadcaster wrote.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.