Dutch health authorities said they had detected 61 cases of COVID-19 among people who had traveled from South Africa and say they believe some of the infections are of the new omicron type.
The Dutch health authority said, in a statement, Saturday, that the cases were discovered among 624 passengers who arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on two flights on Friday.
That was before the Dutch government restricted air traffic from South Africa over concerns about the alternative.
“We know that 61 of the results were positive and 531 . were positive [were] GDD said.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Institute of Public Health (RVIM) said the agency was “almost certain” the cases were of the new type, but said more testing was needed to be fully sure.
Results are expected to be announced on Sunday.
Those who tested positive for the virus are now isolated in a hotel near the airport.
A spokesperson for KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France, said passengers on the flight either tested negative or showed evidence of vaccination before boarding planes in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
A KLM spokesperson said: “It would be an exaggeration to say we were surprised” by the large number of cases. “But we have no explanation.”
It is possible that many of the positive cases were among the people who had been vaccinated, or an unusual number of people contracted the infection after tests tested negative, the spokesperson said.
Dutch health authorities sought to contact another 5,000 travelers who traveled from South Africa, Botswana or Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe since Monday to urge them to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. .
“It’s a little scary.”
Dutch photographer Paula Zimmermann, who returned from a family visit in South Africa on Friday morning, said the condition of plane passengers was chaotic, as they waited on the tarmac and in the terminal for hours.
Zimmerman was told it came negative at 4am, about 18 hours after landing in Amsterdam. But then she found out she was standing next to a man who found out he had the virus.
“It was really weird. There was no coordination. There were very few people and no one taking over.”
Spending hours on a flight that likely had many infected passengers made Zimmermann anxious for the days to come, she said.
“I was told that they expect more people to test positive after five days. It’s a little scary, the idea that you were on a plane with so many people who tested positive.”
New York Times global health reporter Stephanie Nolen also tweeted her ordeal in what she called “Airlines’ Central Dystopia Hall.”
She described how passengers, including infants and young children, were crammed together waiting to be screened, while “30 percent of people still don’t wear masks or only wear them over the mouth.”
Dutch nationals are still allowed to return home from South Africa, while EU citizens are allowed entry while in transit to their home countries.
Medical staff, airline crews and those with urgent needs are still allowed to travel. KLM will continue flights to the region, but all travelers must now test negative before departure and then quarantine for at least five days upon arrival in the Netherlands.
The new alternative has been revealed as many European countries struggle with an increase in coronavirus cases.
The Dutch government announced on Friday the nightly closure of bars, restaurants and most shops, as it tries to curb a record wave of COVID-19 cases flooding the health care system.