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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Passengers from South Africa face hours of delays and testing in Amsterdam

Several hundred passengers arriving in Amsterdam on two flights from South Africa on Friday faced hours of delays and testing due to concerns over a newly detected variant of the coronavirus.

The Dutch government issued a ban on all air travel from southern Africa early on Friday. Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said in a statement that passengers already in the air would have to undergo testing and quarantine upon arrival.

Passengers on the two KLM flights, from Cape Town and Johannesburg, said they had been kept waiting on the tarmac for hours.

“Vigorous applause because there is a BUS that has come to take us … somewhere,” tweeted New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen, a passenger on the flight from Johannesburg.

“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,” she added in a second tweet.

The passengers “are currently being transferred to a secure location at Schiphol,” the airport said in a statement.

“Everything is done carefully and that’s why it took some time. Passengers are provided with food and drinks. They will be tested (for) the coronavirus.”

Local health authorities later clarified that only passengers that test positive for COVID-19 will be forced to quarantine. Results from the tests are expected later on Friday.

The Dutch government is expected to announce new restrictions, including the nighttime closure of bars, restaurants, and most stores, later on, Friday as it grapples with a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is swamping its healthcare system.