Sixty-one passengers from two KLM flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Amsterdam, the Dutch health authority (GGD Kennemerland) announced on Saturday.
Passengers of flight KL598 from Cape Town (Boeing 777-300ER registered PH-BVC) and flight KL592 from Johannesburg (Boeing 777-300ER registered PH-BVK) had to wait for hours in the plane after arrival and stay at Schiphol after disembarking to be tested and wait for the results. “We now know that 61 of the results were positive and 531 were negative,” said the Dutch health authority.
Passengers who tested positive have been quarantined at a hotel near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. They will remain there for a period of at least seven days if they have symptoms and five days if they have no complaints.
The tested passengers arrived in Amsterdam on Friday. Those with negative results will be able to continue their trip if they do not reside in the Netherlands. Passengers who have tested positive and who are able to go home by their own transport have been given the option of self-isolation at home.
The positive tests will be analysed to determine as soon as possible whether it is the new Omicron variant, detected for the first time Thursday in South Africa and considered “worrying” by the WHO. It represents a “high to very high” risk for Europe, warned the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on Friday evening.
The Omicron variant would present an increased risk of contagion compared to other variants, including Delta, which is now dominant and already very contagious.
The Dutch airline KLM said in a statement that it would continue to fly to Johannesburg and Cape Town, “by applying the reinforced protocols“. While most countries have banned flights to and from southern Africa to curb Omicron.
Entry to the Netherlands from South Africa is only allowed for Dutch citizens and residents from EU countries, who must show a negative Covid test and self-isolate at the arrival.
Apart from South Africa, Omicron has been detected in Malawi, Israel on a person from Malawi, Botswana, Hong Kong and Belgium, a member country of the EU.
— paula zimmerman (@paula63) November 26, 2021