Quarantine couple to face charges in fast-track procedure: BNR

A couple who walked out of a quarantine hotel after the woman tested positive for coronavirus and who were later picked up trying to fly to Spain, will appear in court on Tuesday in a fast-track procedure, Dutch and Spanish media report.

However, the couple say they have no idea what charges they are facing and say there is no question of them ‘escaping’ from the quarantine hotel where they were first taken.

The couple, a Spanish man and Portuguese woman, arrived in the Netherlands on Friday on one of two flights from South Africa. Everyone on the flights was tested for coronavirus and 61 out of 624 people on board were positive.

The people with confirmed coronavirus and their partners were taken to the hotel near the airport where they were placed in quarantine amid fears some of them might be carrying the Omicron variant of the virus. Some 14 of the 61 are now known to have the new variant.

The couple have denied they would ‘knowingly endanger others’ and said they had no idea what the rules where, were given no information and denied another PCR test as an extra check. ‘The suggestion we escaped is ridiculous. We were treated like dogs,’ Caroline Pimenta told RTL Nieuws

According to Spanish newspaper El Periodico the couple left with the consent of health board and police officials at the hotel, and the hotel even called them a taxi to go to Schiphol. BNR also said they have since tested negative for coronavirus several times.

Quarantine confusion and Schiphol chaos

Although there is no legal ground to impose quarantine, the couple’s departure was seen as a danger to public health, prompting the mayor of Haarlemmermeer to call in the police.

They were arrested at Schiphol and then taken to a hospital in Haren in Groningen, where they are now in an isolation unit attached to a tuberculosis ward.

A video shot by the couple shows a small hospital room with two beds and a bathroom with foul smelling water on the floor.

Passengers on the two flights from South Africa also criticised the way the situation was handled at Schiphol.

New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen described the situation at the airport as ‘chaotic’ with passengers having to wait for almost five hours to be tested in ill-ventilated spaces and without food and drink and with passenger not wearing face masks. Once tested the results were not accessible, she said on Twitter.

Others said the information they were give was contradictory. While health board spokesman Harm Groustrat said people who had tested positive and had an address in the Netherlands could go into quarantine there, one passenger told the Volkskrant that health board officials were putting pressure on all infected passengers to go to the hotel.

The AD also reports that a group of passengers are now demanding an apology and possible compensation from Schiphol airport, airline KLM and the regional health board for the chaos.

The situation at Schiphol was a ‘superspreader event’ and people were treated inhumanely without access to food or water, Oscar van Overdam, who wrote the letter on behalf of the 12 people, told the paper.

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