The Dutch National Institute of Public Health said on Sunday that it had detected at least 13 cases of Covid-19 infection with the new South African or omicron variant among 61 passengers on two flights from South Africa who were diagnosed with Covid-19 infection.
“The omicron strain has so far been identified in 13 positive tests. The tests have not yet been completed. The new strain can be found in other test samples,” the institute said.
The infected are currently being quarantined in one of the hotels near Schiphol Airport, where all 600 passengers on both flights were forced to wait for the test results on Friday.
Those infected will have to spend seven days in quarantine if they show symptoms of the disease, and five days if they do not.
On the other hand, passengers who have passed the tests must go in self-isolation if they remain in the Netherlands.
In response, many countries, including the European Union (EU), have suspended flights from southern Africa.
Scientists believe the new variant may be more contagious than the Covid-19 delta or Indian variant, as well as more resistant to current Covid-19 vaccines. The 15th letter of the Greek alphabet – omicron – has been assigned to denote the new type of virus.