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Omicron variant was detected in the Netherlands before SA flights

Schiphol testing pavilion in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Schiphol testing pavilion in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Image: EVA PLEVIER/Reuters

The Covid-19 Omicron variant was detected in the Netherlands before two flights arrived from SA last week, Dutch health officials said on Tuesday.

“We have found the Omicron coronavirus variant in two test samples that were taken on November 19 and 23,” the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said.

“It is not clear yet whether these people have visited Southern Africa.”

The discovery of Omicron has sparked worries around the world that it could prolong the nearly two-year-old Covid-19 pandemic.

Some 61 out of more than 600 passengers on the SA flights tested positive for Covid-19 and went into quarantine after arriving last Friday.

At least 14 people on the flights, from Johannesburg and Cape Town, arrived at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on November 26 with patients carrying the new variant, the institute said.

Dutch authorities are also seeking to contact and test some 5,000 other passengers who have travelled from SA, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe.

In the Netherlands, tougher Covid-19 measures went into effect on Sunday to curb record daily infection rates of more than 20,000 and ease pressure on hospitals.

Reuters


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