A dramatic incident unfolded at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on board a flight that was set to depart for Spain at around 6pm on Sunday.
Just as the plane was about to take off, Dutch military police boarded the aircraft and removed a married couple who fled a quarantine hotel for suspected COVID-19 Omicron strain carriers in the Netherlands.
The identities of the detained couple were not released, and it is unclear whether they were infected or just being held in quarantine as a precaution. The military turned them over to health officials to be sent to another quarantine facility.
The Netherlands is on high alert after over a dozen cases of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant were discovered among airline passengers – before all 27 EU member states agreed to temporarily ban travel from seven southern African nations on Friday.
All recent arrivals into the Netherlands from South Africa, as well as from Botswana, Malawi, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, have been required to be tested and quarantined until their results are known, even if they are vaccinated.
Some 61 out of a total of 624 passengers tested positive for COVID-19, so the Dutch National Institute for Health (RIVM) warned that “the new variant may be found in more test samples.”
“We will control whether they keep to those rules,” Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge declared on Sunday, just hours before the escape attempt.