New Omicron variant spread fears as 13 passengers on flight from South Africa test positive in Amsterdam

AT least thirteen people have tested positive for the “horrific” Omicron Covid variant after landing in Amsterdam on a flight from South Africa.

Dutch health authorities have confirmed 61 passengers are quarantining as they are infected with the coronavirus – with at least 13 cases of the new super strain.

AP
Dozens of passengers aboard flights from South Africa to Amsterdam have tested positive for Covid[/caption]
EPA
The Red Cross took those infected into quarantine last night[/caption]

“The Omicron variant has so far been identified in 13 of the positive tests. The investigation has not yet been completed. The new variant may be found in more test samples,” the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in a statement.

The passengers were among 600 to arrive at Schiphol Airport on two KLM flights on Friday.

Health chiefs said: “Travellers with a positive test result will be placed in isolation at a hotel at or near Schiphol.

“Of the positive test results, we are researching as quickly as possible whether they are the new variant of concern, now named ‘Omicron’.”

The Dutch government banned all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday.

However, health minister Hugo de Jonge said passengers already en route to the Netherlands would be allowed into the country after undergoing testing and quarantine.

Passengers on the two KLM flights, from Cape Town and Johannesburg, said they were kept waiting on the tarmac for hours.

New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen, a passenger on a flight from Johannesburg who later tested negative, reported a “huge queue” to see Covid testers.

It comes after it was confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the UK.

The Health Secretary said the dreaded super-strain has been reported in Chelmsford and Nottingham as fears of a second Christmas lockdown grow.

Mr Javid said the two individuals who have tested positive and all members of their households are now self-isolating.

They are being re-tested and have been told to self-isolate while further testing and contact tracing is underway.

Meanwhile, health chiefs say it’s overwhelmingly likely that “very high risk” Omicron is in Germany already after a traveller tested positive for a mutated form of the deadly bug.

Fears are intensifying over the Omicron variant – believed by experts to be the “worst variant ever”.

FEARS OVER SUPER-STRAIN

In Germany – which looks set to head back into lockdown as Covid cases spiral – a minister in western state Hesse said Omicron has already arrived.

“Last night several Omicron-typical mutations were found in a traveller returning from South Africa,” tweeted Kai Klose.

The state is home to busy Frankfurt Airport.

EU health chiefs have warned the new mutation poses a “high to very high” risk to Europe.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says there’s “considerable uncertainty related to the transmissibility, vaccine effectiveness, risk for reinfections and other properties of the Omicron variant.”

‘HIGH RISK’

On Friday, video emerged of travellers being told they couldn’t get off a plane in Amsterdam after the first European case was confirmed in Belgium.

They were finally allowed off the jet after being tested and leaving their details with contact tracers.

Some nations, including Germany, are believed to be bracing for a ‘Code Black’ scenario – meaning medics will have to choose who gets treatment and who doesn’t.

The situation could soon worsen if Omicron spreads, it’s feared, and the strain has officially been named a “variant of concern” by the WHO.

Elsewhere, a state of emergency has been declared in New York, and President Joe Biden has banned travel from eight African countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told his officials to review plans to ease travel restrictions, but tighten border sreening.

The country is the world’s second-worst affected by the pandemic. The government only decided yesterday to resume international flights from countries deemed ‘at risk’ of the virus.

Reuters
Hundreds of people queued for Covid tests after flying into Schiphol yesterday[/caption]
Reuters
The Dutch government banned all flights from South Africa – but allowed in passengers already in the air when the decision was made[/caption]
Six South African countries are now on the UK’s ‘red list’


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