Wednesday 06 July 2022

Flights from South Africa continue, new arrivals not all tested for Covid

Photo: Brandon Hartley

People arriving at Schiphol airport on a flight from South Africa on Saturday were not all tested for coronavirus on arrival, the Telegraaf reported, citing people who were on the plane.

The paper spoke to several passengers who told of the chaos before boarding, with dozens of people refused permission to fly.

The situation was compounded by the cancellation of a Virgin Atlantic flight to London. But British nationals were refused permission to board the KLM flight because the UK is no longer part of the EU. The plane eventually took off with 161 people on board, the Telegraaf said.

Rita Kizito, a lecturer at Twente University, told the paper she had expected to be tested at Schiphol, given the problems on Friday. Others too said they had not been checked on arrival, but would all take a test after five days quarantine.

All passengers on Friday’s planes which landed just prior to the Netherlands so-called ban on flights from southern Africa were tested. They spent over 12 hours at the airport in cramped conditions while waiting to be checked and for the results.

In total, 61 out of the 600 passengers were positive for the virus. Most of them have now been put up in a hotel to sit out the infection, but five, who lived alone in the Netherlands, were allowed home, a local health board spokesman told broadcaster NOS.

As yet, it is not known if any of them have the new variant of coronavirus, which led the Dutch government to impose new restrictions on flights from Friday.

Random checks

The regional health board told the Telegraaf that not everyone to arrive on Saturday was being tested, but that random checks were being carried out. Official Dutch policy states that people from very high risk areas should go into mandatory quarantine and be able to show a negative PCR test.

The new variant, Omicron, has so far been identified in Belgium, Britain and probably Germany, but not yet in the Netherlands.

Scientists are now analysing the samples given by people from the Friday flights to establish what variant they were carrying.

KLM has two scheduled services from South Africa a day. On Saturday afternoon, Air France ZA said on Twitter that everyone with permission to board the flights would have to have a negative PCR test to travel.

Since last Monday, some 5,000 people have flown to the Netherlands from southern Africa. All are now being urged to come forward for a coronavirus test.

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