Thursday 13 May 2021

Dutch have no plans to ban flights from India despite coronavirus surge

Coronavirus testing at Schiphol airport. Photo: Brandon Hartley

The Netherlands has no plans to ban flights to the Netherlands from India, despite the surge in coronavirus cases there, health minister Hugo de Jonge has said in answer to questions from D66.

While a possible new variant of coronavirus has been identified in India, this has not been declared to be more dangerous by the World Health Organisation, De Jonge said.

The number of coronavirus infections in India is surging upwards at the moment, with 315,000 new cases reported overnight.

The government did earlier ban flights from other countries where new variants of the virus were identified, such as India and Brazil. D66 parliamentarian Jan Paternotte had asked the minister to do the same for flights from India.

De Jonge said he had asked the public health institute RIVM on March 26 if extra measures were needed, but the RIVM said there was no reason for a flight ban.

However, that may change if the Indian variant does turn out to be more dangerous, he said.

RIVM chief Jaap van Dissel also said on Thursday morning that there is no need to ban flights if passengers are tested and go into quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands.

However, there is currently no compulsory quarantine in the Netherlands, and only one in four people actually stick to the rules. The government plans to make quarantine compulsory in law from May 15.

Some 200 cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus have already been identified in Britain, which has added India to its red list from 4am tomorrow. Australia is also cutting flights from India.

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