Couple who traveled to South Africa arrested for ‘fleeing’ Amsterdam quarantine hotel

(CNN) — Dutch police said on Sunday, November 28 that they arrested a married couple who had “fled” from a mandatory government-ordered quarantine.

The pair, who AFP identified as a 30-year-old Spanish man and 28-year-old Portuguese woman, reportedly arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Friday from South Africa, where the new Omicron coronavirus variant was first identified and detected last week.

Marechausse, Dutch military police, “arrested a couple this evening who had fled from a quarantine hotel,” police spokesman Stan Verberkt told CNN.

Marechausse did not specify whether either of them had tested positive for Covid. It is also not yet known how police discovered that the couple had left their quarantine hotel.

The pair had been on board one of two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam, where at least 61 passengers had tested positive for the virus, with 13 of those cases confirmed to be the Omicron variant.

The 600 total passengers from the two planes were ordered into quarantine at a hotel near the airport.

The couple were arrested “(on board) a plane that was about to take off en route to Spain at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) and both persons have been transferred to the GGD (regional Dutch health authority),” Verberkt added.

Dutch authorities will decide if the couple will face charges of jeopardizing public safety.

GGD spokeswoman Stefanie van Waardenburg confirmed that the couple was among the passengers of a flight that landed at Schiphol from Johannesburg on Friday.

The health authority is carrying out more tests on passengers to see if any carry the new Omicron variant, Waardenburg added.

The Netherlands is among the countries that have imposed a flight ban on the southern African region (including South Africa) following reports of the new variant.

Top image: Schiphol Airport’s Covid testing appointment desk. Credit: Paulo Amorim/Sipa USA