Dutch find 13 Omicron cases among South Africa travelers
– Dutch health officials said on Sunday that 13 instances of the novel Omicron coronavirus type were discovered in the Netherlands among passengers on two planes arriving on Friday from South Africa.
They were among 61 passengers on the two planes, which transported roughly 600 people, who tested positive for COVID-19. Those who tested positive are being held at a motel near the airport in isolation.
“We have so far detected 13 cases of the Omicron variation among the positive (passenger COVID-19) tests in our (virus) sequencing research, which is currently ongoing,” the National Institute for Health (RIVM) stated in a statement.
At a news conference in Rotterdam, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge warned, “It is not improbable that additional cases will arise in the Netherlands.” “It’s possible that this is only the tip of the iceberg.”
The Dutch investigation began with testing of all the people who arrived on the two flights from South Africa at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Friday before the Dutch government changed its rules on air traffic from southern Africa due to concerns over the variant.
The discovery of Omicron dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.
Dutch health authorities are also seeking to contact and test some 5,000 other passengers who have traveled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, or Zimbabwe since Monday.
Worries over the variant come as many European countries are already grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.
In the Netherlands, rules go into effect on Sunday mandating the closure of bars, restaurants, and most stores at 5 p.m. in an attempt to reverse a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is swamping the healthcare system.
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