A view of the entrance to Hotel Ramada near Schipol Airport on November 27 2021, where 61 people that were on the flights from SA tested positive COVID-19 a week after two other people in the Netherlands tested positive for the Omicron variant. Pictures: REUTERS/EVA PLEVIER
A view of the entrance to Hotel Ramada near Schipol Airport on November 27 2021, where 61 people that were on the flights from SA tested positive COVID-19 a week after two other people in the Netherlands tested positive for the Omicron variant. Pictures: REUTERS/EVA PLEVIER

Amsterdam — The Covid-19 Omicron variant was detected in the Netherlands before two flights arrived from SA last week carrying the virus, Dutch health officials said on Tuesday.

At least 14 people on flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on November 26 carrying the new variant, the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said.

“We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on November 19 and November 23,” the RIVM said. “It is not clear yet whether these people have visited Southern Africa.”

The discovery of Omicron has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old Covid-19 pandemic.

A total of 61 out of the more than 600 passengers on the SA flights tested positive for Covid-19 and went into quarantine after arriving last Friday.

Dutch authorities are also seeking to contact and test about 5,000 other passengers who have travelled from SA, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe.

In the Netherlands, tougher Covid-19 measures went into effect on Sunday to curb record daily infection rates of more than 20,000 and ease pressure on hospitals. 

Reuters

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