(Natural News) Health authorities in the Netherlands said most of the 62 travelers from South Africa who tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) were fully vaccinated. These include 14 passengers who were found to have contracted the new B11529 omicron strain.
More than 600 passengers were able to board two flights by Dutch air carrier KLM from Johannesburg and Cape Town on Nov. 26. These passengers showed either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test result as per current health protocols. However, the airline did not keep track of how individual passengers had met their pre-flight heal requirements.
A spokesman for the Kennemerland region’s health authority said on Dec. 2 that “around 90 percent” of the COVID-positive were fully vaccinated. The Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, where the two KLM flights landed, is located at the coastal Kennemerland region in the country’s northwest.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) confirmed on the same day that all 14 passengers infected with the omicron strain are part of the 90 percent fully vaccinated group.
Kennemerland authorities added that they would release more than half of the 62 COVID-positive passengers who had been quarantined at a hotel near Schiphol as subsequent tests showed a negative result. However, they did not divulge whether the 14 travelers infected with the omicron variant were released.
Because of the omicron strain’s increased infectivity, Dutch health authorities have urged the government to mandate testing instead of proof of vaccination as a prerequisite before flying.
RIVM recommended that only a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test taken 48 hours before arrival in the Netherlands should be accepted. It also urged that the PCR test be mandatory for all travelers – regardless of their vaccination status.
The Dutch government has yet to adopt the RIVM’s recommendations, saying that it wants any decision to be made at the European Union level.
Jaap van Dissel, director of the RIVM’s Center for Infectious Disease Control, told Dutch lawmakers on Dec. 1: “By a combination of requiring tests before departure and retesting five days after arrival, and knowing what happened, you can make flight safer.” He also recommended quarantine for travelers coming from high-risk areas.
Omicron variant infecting fully vaccinated people
The omicron variant reportedly infects individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at a higher rate. This is due to the 32 mutations in its spike protein – compared to the earlier B16172 delta variant’s 13 to 17 mutations. (Related: Omicron COVID variant found ONLY in fully vaccinated.)
First identified in South Africa, the strain has spread to neighboring countries.
Located just above South Africa, Botswana is one of the nations where omicron managed to breach. Botswana’s government said on Nov. 26 that the four omicron cases reported in the country were fully vaccinated diplomats from another location. The home country of the four individuals has not been named.
Botswana said in a statement: “The new virus [variant] was detected on four foreign nationals who had entered Botswana [last Nov. 7] on a diplomatic mission.” The four tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 11 as they were leaving, it added. Subsequent genomic sequencing on Nov. 24 found that the four indeed caught the omicron strain.
Meanwhile, the U.S. confirmed its first known case of COVID-19 caused by omicron on Dec. 1. According to public health officials, the patient returned from a trip to South Africa on Nov. 22. A COVID-19 test on Nov. 29 returned a positive result. The infected traveler had mild and improving symptoms.
White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed to reporters during a press briefing that the traveler was fully vaccinated. Fauci added that the patient is in self-quarantine and their close contacts have also tested negative for the virus. (Related: First American to contract Omicron COVID variant was ‘fully vaccinated,’ Fauci admits.)
Infections.news has more articles about how the omicron strain is infecting fully vaccinated individuals.