Paula Zimmerman has taken to social media to share that travellers on flights from South Africa to Amsterdam were not allowed to get off for some time as the operators sought clarity on the procedures before letting them go.
South African scientists announced on Thursday they had detected the new B.1.1.529 strain with at least 10 mutations, and travellers from the country have started to feel the effects as regions, including Amsterdam, take precautions.
According to news website NOS, all 600 passengers from two different flights will have to wait on their plane or elsewhere at the Amsterdam airport until they are tested.
“Until the passengers have received their (negative) test result, they are not allowed to leave the airport,” said the website.
Health reporter Stephanie Nolen also took to social media to share her story after landing in Amsterdam.
“Update: bus to a hall to a huge queue. I can see Covid testers in bright blue PPE far on the distance. Still no snacks for the sad babies. (And hangry adults. There was some SNARK coming off the plane),” she later updated her social media followers.
Countries cancel flights from SA
Only 24 hours after the announcement of the new variant, countries have moved to either ban flights from South Africa or implemented measures that will only apply to travellers from southern Africa.
This despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning against imposing travel bans over the new variant, calling for a risk-based and scientific approach when making decisions.
The UAE has suspended flights from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe from Monday until further notice
“Outbound passenger flights from Dubai to the countries listed above are permitted. Cargo/freighter operation between the countries listed above and Dubai are also permitted,” said the Dubai Covid-19 Command and Control Centre (CCC) in a statement on Friday.
The Philippines on Friday also suspended flights from countries with cases of a new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman said.
“(T)he temporary suspension of inbound international flights from South Africa, Botswana, and other countries with local cases or with the likelihood of occurrences of the B.1.1.529 variant… shall take effect immediately,” spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement.
Morocco on Friday also banned entry to travellers from seven southern African countries to block the spread of the new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, the official MAP news agency reported.
Japan to require 10-day quarantine over variant
Japan said Friday it will require a 10-day quarantine period for travellers arriving from the six countries after the discovery in South Africa of a new Covid-19 variant.
From Saturday, Tokyo will ask travellers coming from South Africa and neighbouring Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana to stay at designated facilities on arrival.
They will also be tested immediately after landing, as well as three other times during their 10-day quarantine, the government said.
“We have seen reports that it might be more transmissible (than other variants) and that the effectiveness of vaccines against it might be uncertain,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
“So we have decided to take utmost precaution,” he told a press conference, adding that no cases of the variant had been discovered in Japan.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde. Additional reporting by AFP