THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A total of 61 people who arrived in the Netherlands on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for the coronavirus and were in isolation on Saturday as the world anxiously tried to contain a highly transmissible new coronavirus variant.
Further tests are now underway with the travelers who have arrived at Schiphol to determine if any of them have the new ommicron strain of COVID-19 first discovered in southern Africa.
The rapid spread of the variant among young people in South Africa has alarmed health professionals. In just two weeks, ommicron has turned a period of low transmission in the country into a period of rapid growth.
Two planes arrived in the Netherlands from Johannesburg and Cape Town shortly after the Dutch government, along with other countries around the world, imposed a ban on flights from South African countries on Friday following the discovery of the new ommicron variant.
The local Kennermerland health authority, which is responsible for the testing and isolation operation, said in an update on Saturday that the people who tested positive will have to quarantine for seven days if they have symptoms and five days if they are symptom-free.
The 539 travelers who tested negative were allowed to return home or continue their journey to other countries. Under government regulations, those who live in the Netherlands and are allowed to return home must be kept in isolation for at least five days.