Half of those quarantined from South Africa flight still in isolation
More than half of the travelers who were required to quarantine in a Badhoevedorp hotel after flying to the Netherlands from South Africa were allowed to leave the hotel, the GGD Kennemerland said on Thursday. A total of 61 passengers on two aircraft tested positive for coronavirus after landing at Schiphol, including 14 who were infected with the recently-discovered Omicron variant.
Of the 61, Dutch authorities asked 44 to isolate at the Badhoevedorp location near the airport. Those who were released tested negative for coronavirus on Wednesday, the regional branch of the GGD health service said. People who have tested positive will remain in isolation for some time longer. The GGD did not disclose the exact number of people remaining in quarantine.
"I am pleased that more than half of the passengers can now leave the hotel and continue their journey," said Bert van de Velden, the head of GGD Kennemerland. "That is good news for them and their loved ones. I want to express my great appreciation for them. They have cooperated well in the difficult situation of being isolated."
Some of the people who still have to remain in isolation have health complaints, but others have minimal symptoms, or none at all. "We are closely monitoring the situation. Our doctors and nurses are in daily contact with everyone staying in the hotel," says Van de Velden.
The GGD Kennemerland said that the conditions in which the travelers are staying are "not ideal", but they are committed to "providing them with what is necessary, such as food and drinks, and other things". Doctors and nurses from the GGD are maintaining close contact with them. "I hope that these people can also travel on to their families and loved ones again soon," said the GGD director.
It turned out that there were infected travelers on two KLM flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town which arrived last Friday, though everyone who boarded the airplanes were required to provide proof of a negative test result. The GGD had to hastily arrange for testing of the 624 people on the flights. Apart from the 44 housed at the hotel, the others who tested positive were eventually allowed to isolate at home, as did the other travelers from the two aircraft.
Two people left the hotel quarantine against the advice of the GGD. Eventually, the mayor of Haarlemmermeer issued a public health order calling for their detention. The two were removed from a flight to Spain before takeoff and sent into a forced quarantine at a hospital in Haren, Groningen. They were released earlier this week. The Public Prosecution Service said it will not pursue a criminal case against them.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.