As growing fears of the Omicron variant triggered a travel ban, 15 of the 110 arrivals from South Africa tested at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport turned up positive for Covid-19. The remaining 500 flights are being tested.
Friday saw the Dutch government ban South African and neighboring country arrivals. This was due to concerns about an allegedly newer and more deadly coronavirus. Two flights carrying more than 600 passengers were already on their way to Schiphol. Special testing stations were established for them.
From the 110 passengers that have been tested thus far, fifteen of them tested positive for Covid-19. This was reported by the Dutch NOS on Friday evening.
The outlet stated that the 13.6% rate of positive tests on the flights is expected to be based on these results. This would mean there will be approximately 85 passengers. The test did not identify the exact virus type.
On Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus – first detected in Botswana – as a new variant of concern and dubbed it ‘Omicron.’ Though the WHO cautioned against travel bans, a number of governments – including the EU, US, and Russia – have since restricted entry to nationals of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Schiphol was Europe’s third-busiest airport prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, handling 71.7 million passengers in 2019. The Dutch authorities stated that passengers from South African flight 103 and 104 will be permitted to travel, while those who have tested positive for the disease must remain in quarantine for five more days. The quarantine facility will transfer those who have tested positive.