AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch health officials said on Friday they feared some passengers arriving from South Africa in the past week have tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival despite having been vaccinated and tested negative before the departure of their flight.
“This shows that the virus spreads easily and it is worrying,” said Bert van de Velden, director of the regional health authority at Kennemerland, which includes Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
“It is of the utmost importance that travelers are properly tested before boarding a plane and that they allow themselves to be tested after arrival. “
Hundreds of passengers arrive each week on flights from South Africa at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, and health officials said about 9% of those who agreed to undergo a voluntary test at the arrival – only a third of passengers agreed – were found to have COVID-19.
Health officials began carrying out post-flight tests after a full investigation into two flights from South Africa on November 26.
Those flights were in flight when the Dutch government introduced new travel restrictions in light of concerns over the newly detected Omicron variant.
The more than 600 passengers on the flights were isolated and tested thoroughly, and 62 were found to have COVID-19, 14 of which had the Omicron variant.
The U.S. government on Thursday announced rules requiring a preflight test for all international travelers that will take effect on Monday. https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/new-us-covid-19-international-travel-testing-rules-take-effect-monday-2021-12-02
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Gareth Jones)