Following the emergence of the Omicron variant in Africa last week, the United States and the European Union and other countries banned flights from southern Africa. Israel and Morocco slammed their doors to the world. Australia, Japan and other countries delayed opening and joined with China, which has adopted a fortress mentality to completely overcome the virus at home.
Despite all the attention for flights to the Netherlands, positive cases of Omicron have already surfaced in several countries, and public health experts consider the emergence everywhere inevitable.
A vaccinated Italian, who has not been publicly identified, returned from business in Mozambique to the southern city of Caserta earlier in November. He said on Italian radio that he had tested negative before boarding his flight on November 11, as required by Italy. Because he was traveling for work, according to Italian rules, he did not have to go into self-isolation upon his return.
Only during a medical examination in Milan, where he also underwent a Covid test to be able to return to Mozambique, did he test positive for the corona virus and then, amid the increased attention for the new variant, for Omicron. Now he and his wife and children, who are also positive for the virus, are in isolation, all with mild symptoms for the time being.
KLM, the airline that operated Friday’s two flights from South Africa, apologized to passengers on Tuesday. But Marjan Rozemeijer, a spokeswoman for the company, suggested it was just as taken aback by the variant as anyone.
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When the flights landed at Schiphol, she said, the company was “asked by the Dutch government to park our aircraft in a specific location so that all passengers could be tested”, adding that the airport and the Dutch public health authorities would had organized and conducted the test.
A spokesperson for the Dutch GGD, on the other hand, said it had done its best and saw nothing wrong with it passengers who had tested negative for the virus to continue their journey.