Dutch Police Arrest Couple That Fled COVID Quarantine

Dutch border police said Sunday they arrested a couple who boarded a plane at Schiphol Airport

  • The couple had escaped a hotel where Covid-19 positive passengers from South Africa were being held

  • France has detected eight possible cases of Omicron and Canada said it has two confirmed cases 

  • Countries across Europe closed borders to countries in southern Africa yesterday to combat the new variant 

  • Sajid Javid said the UK would avoid another lockdown for the time being despite a new super-strain outbreak 

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    Dutch police have arrested a couple who 'fled' an Omicron quarantine hotel and boarded a flight out of Holland - as the super-mutant continues to spread around the globe with cases in Canada and France

    Dutch border police said Sunday they arrested a couple on a plane at Schiphol Airport after they ran from a hotel where Covid-19 positive passengers from South Africa were being quarantined.

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    'The arrests took place as the plane was about to take off,' the Marechaussee police force said on Twitter, adding that the pair had been handed over to the public health authority.

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    Meanwhile, France's Health Ministry said on Sunday it had detected eight possible cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant across the country after the government announced it would tighten restrictions to contain its spread.

    And two cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first detected in Southern Africa last week, have been confirmed in Canada, provincial health officials said on Sunday. 

    Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants, although experts do not know yet if it will cause more or less severe Covid-19 compared to other strains.

    'They are being considered as possibly being contaminated with the Omicron variant having been to southern Africa in the last 14 days,' the French Health Ministry said in a statement.

    It said further tests were being carried out to fully confirm it was Omicron, but the people and those they had been in contact with were now in isolation.

    France is in the midst of a fifth wave of the virus. It recorded more than 31,600 positive COVID-19 cases on Sunday having seen a sharp rise in the number of patients in intensive care the previous day. 

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    A healthcare worker collects a swab from a passenger for a PCR test against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before traveling to Uganda, amidst the spread of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 28, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham
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    Passengers undergo COVID-19 tests at the Histopath Diagnostic Specialists pre-departure area at Sydney International Airport on November 28
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    People wait in front of an Appointment Desk for test appointments inside Schiphol Airport, after Dutch health authorities said that 61 people who arrived in Amsterdam on flights from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19
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    A healthcare worker prepares for a PCR Covid-19 test on a traveller at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg
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    Passengers put their luggage in the overhead storage on a plane before a flight to Amsterdam at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg
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    Passengers sit in their seats aboard KLM Flight 598 at Schipol airport in Amsterdam after it landed from Cape Town, South Africa on Friday
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    People wait for the  Covid-19 test results at Schiphol Airport, in Amsterdam, amid concerns about the Omicron variant
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    People travelling from South Africa queue to be tested for Covid-19 after their plane was held on the tarmac at Schiphol Airport
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    Health Minister Olivier Veran had earlier told reporters at a vaccination centre in Paris that the government would do its utmost to contain the spread of the new variant.

    He said that any contact that a person at risk of a possible case or a confirmed case of the Omicron variant, even vaccinated, would now have to isolate. Those people should be considered 'high risk' and quarantined.

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    Until now, contact cases of an infected person had to be isolated only when they were not fully vaccinated or when they had weak immune systems.

    France has also suspended all flights from southern Africa until at least December 1 and stepped up protocols for people coming from its nearby overseas territories of La Reunion and Mayotte, the ministry said.  

    The Canadian cases were reported in two people who recently travelled to Nigeria, the Ontario government said in a statement. 

    On Friday, Canada closed its borders to foreign travellers who have recently been to seven Southern African nations in the preceding two weeks to help stop the spread of the newly identified variant of Covid-19.

    'Today, the province of Ontario has confirmed two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in Ottawa, both of which were reported in individuals with recent travel from Nigeria. Ottawa Public Health is conducting case and contact management and the patients are in isolation,' the statement said.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible than other variants, or if it causes more severe disease. 

    Meanwhile, Christmas getaways to Europe have been plunged into crisis after Switzerland announced it has banned all Britons with immediate effect amid concerns of the rising cases of the Covid super-mutant Omicron.

    Switzerland has said that only Swiss nationals and permanent residents can enter, but a pre-departure negative test must be proven alongside a 10-day mandatory quarantine.

    Israel shut its borders to all foreigners and brought back phone-tracking late on Saturday in a bid to crack down on the rising cases.

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    This news comes as tough new border restrictions in Spain will also require Brits to be fully-vaccinated to enter the country.  

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    Christmas getaways to Europe have been plunged into crisis after Switzerland announced it has banned all Britons with immediate effect amid concerns of the rising cases of the deadly Omicron Covid strain, and Spain will only allow double-jabbed Brits in the country
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    Israel announced it will shut its borders to all foreign nationals in a strict new measure to curb the spread of the virus
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    Switzerland on Saturday widened quarantine requirements to stem the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant to travellers arriving from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi, where cases have been detected, its health ministry said.

    On Friday, Switzerland banned direct flights from South Africa and the surrounding region due to the detection of a new COVID-19 variant, while also imposing restrictions on travel from other countries including Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.

    Entry from those countries would only be possible for Swiss citizens or those with a residence permit in Switzerland or the broader Schengen area.

    This strengthens the previous restriction, announced just yesterday, which was that all flight passenger arrivals had to quarantine.

    Now, following the detection of new Omicron cases, travellers from Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Egypt and Malawi will need to present a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for ten days as well, the Federal Office of Public Health said in a tweet.

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    Swiss voters queue during snow fall to cast their ballot at a Polling station during a referendum in Fribourg, Switzerland on November 28
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    It did not state whether travel from those countries would be limited to Swiss citizens and residents or not.

    Referendum on Covid certificate in Switzerland

    Swiss voters are having their say in a referendum today which will decide whether Switzerland should impose the COVID-19 certificate, which says if a person has been vaccinated or has recovered from the virus.

    The vote is for amendments to the COVID-19 law, which was created to issue federal orders effectively across the entire country.

    Polls suggest a solid majority of Swiss will approve the measure, which is already in effect.

    But campaigners said the measure is creating an 'apartheid' system as the certificate gives them access to restaurants, bars, cafes and other indoor venues.

    Just under two-thirds of the Swiss population is fully vaccinated and they have one of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe.  

    If voters reject the bill, including its amendments, it will be dissolved by the end of September - one year from when it was approved. 

    Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant have also been detected in the southern German state of Bavaria and in Italy, both neighbours of Switzerland, but Switzerland has thus far not imposed travel restrictions on any countries with which it shares borders.  

    Israel has slam shut its borders to all foreign nationals, in a strict new measure, and is mandating quarantine for all Israelis arriving from abroad.

    Israel placed the southern African nations Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe on its 'red list' because of the discovery of the variant. 

    Israel said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country and reintroduce counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to contain the spread of the variant.

    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days. Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine.

    The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.  

    Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement from his office: 'We are close to an emergency situation... we must act strongly and quickly.'  

    Anti-lockdown also protesters demonstrated in the Hague after the government introduced new Covid-19 restrictions under a 'light' lockdown - and banned new years eve fireworks to prevent excess hospitalisations as doctors in the Netherlands focus on treating virus patients. 

    And Germany, Italy and the UK became the latest states to detect cases of the highly transmissible and potentially vaccine resistant Omicron strain, which was discovered in South Africa this week. 

    Authorities in Australia said two overseas travellers who arrived in Sydney from Africa became the first in the country to test positive for the super variant.

    Officials confirmed Sunday that the two passengers were asymptomatic and were both vaccinated for COVID-19.

    They were among a group of 14 passengers, who have now all gone into quarantine.  

    The discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans from southern Africa and fears over low vaccination rates. The new variant has also emerged as many countries in Europe are already battling a surge in Covid-19 infections, and some have re-introduced restrictions on social activity to try to stop the spread. 

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    The Shin Bet counter-terrorism agency's phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant in order to curb its transmission to others, Bennett said.

    Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers' locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact. 

    Israel's Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns. 

    Israel has so far confirmed one case of Omicron, with seven suspected cases. The Health Ministry has not said whether the confirmed case was vaccinated.  

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    What do we know about the Omicron variant? 

    Scientists have said they are concerned about the B.1.1.529 variant, named by the World Health Organisation as Omicron, as it has around 30 different mutations - double the amount present in the Delta variant. The mutations contain features seen in all of the other variants but also traits that have not been seen before. 

    UK scientists first became aware of the new strain on November 23 after samples were uploaded on to a coronavirus variant tracking website from South Africa, Hong Kong and then Botswana. 

    On Friday, it was confirmed that cases had been identified in Israel and Belgium but currently there are no known cases in the UK.

    Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), told Good Morning Britain on Friday that sequencing is being carried out around the UK to determine if any cases have already been imported. 

    Work is also under way to see whether the new variant may be causing new infection in people who have already had coronavirus or a vaccine, or whether waning immunity may be playing a role.  

    Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, has said the new variant will 'almost certainly' make vaccines less effective, though they would still offer protection.

    Pfizer/BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine against Covid-19, is already studying the new variant's ability to evade vaccines. 

    Spain has also announced a ban on unvaccinated Brit tourists after neighbour Portugal said it would demand proof of a negative coronavirus test to let even the double-jabbed enter the country.

    Officials have said anyone over age 12 must have had both doses of the jab even though the UK's vaccination rules don't allow second doses for that age group, Spain will therefore consider them unvaccinated. 

    The tightening-up of regulations governing entry to the UK's favourite foreign holiday destination comes into force on Wednesday, ending an exemption which means travellers without their Covid jabs could enter Spain with a negative test or proof of recovery from Covid.

    The Spanish government confirmed the change in an official state bulletin published on Saturday.

    Antonio Mayor, President of Benidorm-based hotel association Hosbec, said he thought the effect would be 'minimal' on the Brit-popular Costa Blanca resort where the classic winter tourist is over 50 and double-jabbed.

    But he added: 'Anything that creates barriers is less tourism.'

    Officials have said the move will not not affected the estimated 300,000 Brits living in Spain.

    The country's decision to tighten regulations follows Portugal's announcement that visitors will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test to entry the country from December 1, even if they are fully-vaccinated.

    The decision was taken before confirmation the new Omicron coronavirus variant had been detected in several European countries.

    Portugal confirmed fines for those caught trying to dodge the new crackdown would face fines of between £255 and £680.

    The measure is part of a package of new restrictions designed to tackle a new rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

    Covid passports will become obligatory to enter restaurants, hotels and gyms in Portugal.

    Discos have been told they must close between January 2 and 9 and the return to school after the festive season has been put back by a week to January 10.

    Fines for airlines that transport anyone without proof of a Covid-19 test have been put at nearly £17,000.

    Several regions of Spain have also started demanding Covid passports, or have indicated they will seek court authorisation to do so, for entry to places such as bars, nightclubs and hospitals. 

    Sajid Javid today insisted it is 'going to be a great Christmas' and the UK is 'nowhere near' proper lockdown as he desperately tried to cool panic over the new Omicron Covid variant.

    The Health Secretary said the government was taking 'proportionate and balanced' precautions to 'buy time', confirming that masks will be compulsory again in shops and on public transport from Tuesday. 

    According to a message on the passenger locator form section of the Government's website, day two tests for arrivals in the UK will also need to be PCRs rather than lateral flows from 4am on Tuesday. 

    But Mr Javid stressed there is no certainty that the 'super-mutant' strain will be able to dodge vaccines, or to what extent that could happen.

    And asked whether there could be a return of even tougher curbs such as social distancing, he said there the government is 'nowhere near' that.

    Urging people to keep planning for the festive season as they have been, Mr Javid told Sky News: 'It's going to be a great Christmas.' 

    The Cabinet minister said he was still only aware of two Omicron cases in the UK. 

    Mr Javid said the government will consider updating the recognised symptoms for Covid, after being told on the BBC's Andrew Marr show that reports in southern Africa suggested people did not lose sense of smell or taste and suffered more fatigue.

    'We will of course if we need to,' he said. 

    The reassurance effort came after Boris Johnson announced changes to testing and isolation rules, and mandatory masks in shops and on trains in a bid to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible new variant.   

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    At a hastily-arranged Downing Street press conference last night the PM painted a grim picture of the potential threat from the new 'super-mutant' strain - admitting he cannot guarantee Christmas will go ahead as hoped.  

    Omicron Covid variant DOES spread rapidly and can be transmitted between fully-vaccinated people, says UK government amid fears it makes jabs 40% less effective 

    The Omicron Covid-19 variant does spread rapidly and can be transmitted between full-vaccinated people, the UK government said at a press conference tonight.

    It comes amid fears the new super-mutant strain makes jabs 40 per cent less effective after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the variant 'might in part reduce the effectiveness of vaccines over time'.

    Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said it is not yet clear how effective the vaccine will be as protection against it - but said those who are vaccinated or receive the booster jab will be less likely to become seriously ill.

    He said it is 'inevitable' the Omicron variant will spread across the world over the next few days but added the majority of cases in the UK remain to be of the Delta variant.

    He warned there is currently significant rates of transmission among young people but noted that rates among people aged over 60 and vulnerable groups are improving, meaning hospitalisations and deaths continue to decrease. 

     

    Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10252325/amp/Dutch-police-arrest-couple-fled-omicron-quarantine-hotel-boarded-flight-Holland.html

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