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Dutch: Some of the 61 COVID cases from South Africa flights are new variant

WorldNov 27, 2021 02:56PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Police officers stand guard following Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's announcement of new measures to fight a record surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections, in The Hague, Netherlands, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Eva Plevier 2/2

By Toby Sterling and Bart H. Meijer

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch health authorities said on Saturday they had detected 61 COVID-19 cases among people who flew from South Africa on Friday and believe at least some infections are of the new omicron variant.

The cases were discovered among 624 passengers who arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on two flights on Friday before the Dutch government restricted air traffic from southern Africa due to concerns over the variant. https://www.reuters.com/world/how-worried-should-we-be-about-omicron-variant-2021-11-27

"In a number of the tested persons the omicron variant is presumed to have been found," the Netherlands Institute for Health (RIVM) said in a statement. An RIVM spokesperson said it was "almost certain" the cases were of the new variant, but further testing was needed to be absolutely sure.

The RIVM would not say how many cases it suspects to be of the omicron variant.

The passengers from Friday's flights were kept separated from other travellers and those who tested positive are now being kept in isolation at a hotel near the airport.

A spokesperson for KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France, said the passengers on the flight had either tested negative or shown proof of vaccination before getting on planes in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

"It goes too far to say we are surprised" by the high number of cases, a KLM spokesperson said. "But we don't have an explanation."

The spokesperson said it was possible many of the positive cases were among vaccinated people, or that an unusual number of people developed infections after having tested negative.

Dutch health authorities were seeking to contact some 5,000 other passengers who have travelled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe since Monday to urge them to take a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.

'REALLY WEIRD'

Paula Zimmerman, a Dutch photographer who returned from a family visit in South Africa on Friday morning, said the situation for the passengers on the planes was chaotic, as they were kept waiting on the tarmac and in the terminal for hours.

Zimmerman was told she had tested negative at 4 a.m., almost 18 hours after landing in Amsterdam. But she then found out she was standing right next to a man who discovered he had tested positive.

"It was really weird. There was no coordination. There were too few people and there really wasn’t anybody who took control."

Having spent hours on a flight that likely had many infected passengers made Zimmerman anxious for the days to come, she said.

"I’ve been told that they expect that a lot more people will test positive after five days. It's a little scary, the idea that you’ve been in a plane with a lot of people who tested positive."

Dutch citizens are still allowed to return home from southern Africa, while EU citizens are allowed entry in transit to their home countries.

Medical staff, airline crews and people with pressing needs are also still allowed to travel. KLM will continue flights to the region, but all travellers must now test negative before departure and then quarantine for at least five days upon arrival in the Netherlands.

The new variant has been detected just as many European countries are grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Dutch government on Friday announced the nighttime closure of bars, restaurants and most stores as it tries to curb a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is swamping its healthcare system.

Dutch: Some of the 61 COVID cases from South Africa flights are new variant
 

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Comments (12)
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Nov 28, 2021 12:12AM ET
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How many people on the planes were wearing masks? Who took their masks off during the flight? Why are people not served liquid food that they can consume using masks fitted with a 'straw port'. Liquid food CUTS DOWN on toilet trips ENORMOUSLY. -- The pandemic is NOT a time to insist on personal freedoms and luxurious meals. LIQUID meals consumed through a mask fitted with a straw SHOULD be COMMON SENSE. -- Strawberry Protein Shake anyone?
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Nov 27, 2021 7:38PM ET
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The next letters r Nu, Xi. China Xi told WHO not to name a variant after him.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Nov 27, 2021 7:38PM ET
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.. meaning XI was pretending to be humble now, so he told the ones he bribed at the WHO not to name the next variant after him, lol. China has the WHO in their pocket now. Very smart to attract attention to himself internationally by falsely acting humble. -- The WHO, our tax dollars at work. Great.
Whaling Trawler
Whaling Trawler Nov 27, 2021 6:40PM ET
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unbelievable fake
Nordin Mohamad
Nordin Mohamad Nov 27, 2021 4:29PM ET
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paid news to buy at spike crash...
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Nov 27, 2021 4:29PM ET
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yeah. Look at BNTX's chart and tell me how many days before the recent November spike, THEY, crooks undercover with pharma and the news knew about Omicron
Honey Badger
Honey Badger Nov 27, 2021 4:11PM ET
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vaccinations is fraud and just not working but still spending trillions and building up debts
Al Ose
Al Ose Nov 27, 2021 3:56PM ET
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Well, it may be a hassle but we have a covid ready infrastructure to deal with what happens. Stocks will be volitile for a tad but things will work out just fine
Jose Cabreja
Jose Cabreja Nov 27, 2021 3:45PM ET
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🤡🤡🤡
William Smith
William Smith Nov 27, 2021 2:18PM ET
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Facts now show the variant is everywhere in sub Sahara Africa, likely months old and has spread around the world.
Dirk Onderstal
Dirk Onderstal Nov 27, 2021 12:42PM ET
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Pure scaremongering from the Dutch government
Dirk Onderstal
Dirk Onderstal Nov 27, 2021 12:42PM ET
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pure scaremongering from the Dutch government
Dirk Onderstal
Dirk Onderstal Nov 27, 2021 12:41PM ET
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pure scaremongering from the Dutch government
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Nov 27, 2021 10:32AM ET
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Funny how governments lead us to believe they are on top of things, then the truth comes out when you here about the chaotic responses like this, which is likely closer to the truth.
 
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