At least 13 people have tested positive for the new Omicron Covid variant after landing in Amsterdam on a flight from South Africa.
Dutch health authorities have confirmed 61 passengers are in quarantine because they have coronavirus – with at least 13 cases of the new virus.
“To date, the Omicron variant has been identified in 13 of the positive tests. The investigation has not been completed. The new variant can be found in more test samples,” the Institute of Health said. National Public Service (RIVM) said in a statement.
The passengers were among 600 arriving at Schiphol Airport on two KLM flights on Friday.
It comes after mutant strains were reported to Germany.
Health chiefs said it was most likely “very high risk” Omicron was in Germany after a tourist tested positive for a mutant form of the deadly bug.
Fears are growing for the Omicron variant, which experts say is “the worst variant ever”.
“Travelers who test positive will be placed in isolation at a hotel in or near Schiphol,” the medical director said.
“Among the positive test results, we are investigating as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of interest, currently named ‘Omicron’.”
The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.
However, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said passengers who had already departed for the Netherlands would be allowed to enter the country after going through inspection and quarantine.
FEEL OF SUPER STRAIN
Passengers on two KLM flights, from Cape Town and Johannesburg, said they had to wait on the tarmac for hours.
New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen, a passenger on a flight from Johannesburg who later tested negative, reported a “huge queue” to see people test for Covid.
In Germany – which looks set to return to stalemate as Covid cases spiral – a minister in the western state of Hesse said Omicron has arrived.
“Last night, several mutations typical of Omicron were found in a traveler returning from South Africa,” Kai Klose wrote on Twitter.
The canton is home to the busy Frankfurt Airport.
EU health chiefs have warned the new mutation poses a “high to very high” risk to Europe.
The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention said there was “significant uncertainty regarding the transmissibility, vaccine efficacy, risk of reinfection and other characteristics of the Omicron variant. ”
Yesterday, video emerged of travelers being told they could not get off a plane in Amsterdam after the first European case was confirmed in Belgium.
They were eventually allowed to leave the plane after being screened and leaving their details with a contact tracer.
Several countries, including Germany, are said to be preparing for a ‘Code Black’ scenario – meaning doctors will have to choose who gets treatment and who doesn’t.
The situation could soon get worse if Omicron spreads, people fear.
This strain has been officially named a “variant of concern” by WHO.
And in the UK, a manhunt has begun for hundreds of new passengers arriving from South Africa.
Sajid Javid urged anyone arriving in the country from South Africa in recent days to get a PCR test as quickly as possible.
Boris Johnson is also preparing to roll out further additions to the six South African countries added to Britain’s red list on Friday.
In other places, A state of emergency has been declared in New York, and President Joe Biden has banned travel to eight African countries.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his officials to consider plans to ease travel restrictions, but tighten border controls.
The country is the second hardest hit in the world by the pandemic. The new government decided yesterday to resume international flights from countries deemed ‘at risk’ of contracting the virus.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4160470/omicron-variant-spread-passengers-south-africa-amsterdam/ New Omicron variant instills fear as 13 passengers on flight from South Africa test positive in Amsterdam