Couple with COVID-19 arrested in Netherlands for breaking quarantine to fly home to Spain

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The Dutch military police announced a new arrest of criminals about to flee the scene — a married couple with Covid-19 getting on a plane.

The couple had been quarantined in their hotel and were trying to fly to Spain when the Dutch military police, the Marechausse, apprehended them “in an airplane that was about to depart,” according to a statement given to Reuters. The husband is a native of Spain, and the wife is from Portugal, according to the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, so it may be inferred that they were trying to return home. The two remained unidentified, and the Marechausse only said that they had been turned over to health authorities.

As fears of the “omicron” variant from South Africa make the rounds, Dutch authorities have been quarantining dozens of travelers in their hotels, citing it as a “variant of concern.” Of the 600 passengers on flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town, 61 have tested positive for some form of Covid-19. Out of that 61, thirteen carry the omicron variant of Covid-19, according to Reuters. While the majority of the infected are quarantined at a hotel, some Dutch citizens have been allowed to quarantine at home.

“It is not unlikely more cases will appear in the Netherlands. This could possibly be the tip of the iceberg,” said Hugo de Jonge, the Dutch Health Minister, at a press conference in Rotterdam.

Dutch authorities are also attempting to find and test approximately 5,000 other travelers who have gone to certain southern African countries, specifically South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, or Zimbabwe. On Sunday yet another round of restrictions went into effect in the Netherlands, requiring that bars, restaurants, and most other stores close at 5 p.m. in an attempt to control a new outbreak of Covid-19 infections.

The new omicron variant has been met with both the usual hysteria as well as more restrained concern. Over the last two weeks, it has led to an increase in cases, though at 2,828 new confirmed cases as of last Friday (in South Africa), the overall infection rate for that nation reportedly remains on the lower end.

One of the more worrying aspects of omicron is the speed at which it infects the otherwise young and healthy. “We’re seeing a marked change in the demographic profile of patients with COVID-19,”said Rudo Mathivha, chief of the intensive care unit at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, to an online press briefing, reported Fox News.

At least one South African doctor, however, thinks omicron itself probably isn’t significantly more dangerous than Covid-19 overall:

President Joe Biden is expected to speak about the omicron variant on Monday, and travel bans in the United States against certain South African nations have already gone into effect.

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