NETHERLANDS – According to Dutch health officials, 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday tested positive for COVID-19, and they were conducting additional testing early Saturday to see if any of the infections were caused by the recently discovered Omicron coronavirus variant.
On Friday, almost 600 passengers landed at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on two KLM flights, only to face hours of delays and testing due to fears about the new virus type.
The Dutch Ministry of Health announced early Saturday that 61 tests had come back positive.
In a statement of health authorities, “Travelers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol.”
“Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’,” it stated.
Early Friday, the Dutch authorities stopped all plane flights from southern Africa. Hugo de Jonge, the Dutch Health Minister, decreed that passengers already on their way to the Netherlands would be subjected to testing and quarantine upon arrival.
Passengers on the two KLM flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg stated they were kept waiting for hours on the tarmac.
A tweet of one of the passengers on the flight, New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen said she had tested negative.
“Vigorous applause because there is a BUS that has come to take us … somewhere,” said Nolen.
“Bus to a hall to a huge queue. I can see COVID testers in bright blue PPE far on the distance. Still no snacks for the sad babies,” she added in a second tweet.
The positive instances are being investigated by an academic medical hospital, according to a spokesperson for the health authorities in Kennemerland, the Dutch area that governs Schiphol.
The novel variation was discovered at a time when many European countries are dealing with an increase in coronavirus incidence.
Separately, the Dutch government announced the closure of clubs, restaurants, and most retailers at night on Friday in an effort to stop a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is wreaking havoc on the country’s healthcare system.
In the Philippines, authorities have banned the entry of travelers from South Africa and six other neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, there has been a recorded case of Omicron being hit in Hong Kong.