COVID-positive couple arrested for trying to leave quarantine hotel in The Netherlands

A Dutch couple who had both tested positive for COVID-19 was arrested trying to fly out of the country after they escaped from a quarantined hotel in the Netherlands, the Washington Examiner reports. 

The Spanish man and Portuguese woman tried to fly to Spain but were arrested while boarding their flight.

The two were part of a group of 61 others who flew in from Johannesburg, South Africa, and tested positive for COVID-19. Thirteen of those who tested positive reportedly tested positive for the recently announced omicron variant. It was not known whether the arrested couple also tested positive for omicron.

The Netherlands locks down

Most of the 61 people involved were asked to stay at the hotel, but Dutch residents were allowed to quarantine at home.

The Netherlands moved into a partial lockdown state on Sunday, with stores forced to close early, and visitors to private homes limited by government health authorities.

Several countries have placed restrictions on travelers from South Africa and some other countries in the region, including the UK and the U.S. because of the prevalence of the omicron variant there and the fear of it spreading across Europe and America.

President Joe Biden said on Monday that the omicron variant would spread to the U.S. “eventually,” no matter what precautions are taken.

No hospitalizations or deaths

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified omicron as a Variant of Concern (VOC), however, a doctor who helped identify the new variant’s presence in South Africa said that nearly all the cases there are “mild” and added that there have been no hospitalizations or deaths, so far, Business Insider noted.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for travel bans to be lifted due to the lack of risk, and claimed that travel bans only hurt the country after it was fully transparent about the emergence of the variant.

According to The Hill, Moderna’s CEO said Tuesday that there was a significant risk that existing vaccines’ effectiveness against omicron could be decreased because of a high number of mutations with this specific variant.

Vaccine makers are now studying the vaccines’ effectiveness against omicron, and are expected to generate actionable data within the next month. There may not be as much need for vaccines if the variant is especially mild and has a low level of hospitalizations and fatalities.

The stock market once again dipped on Tuesday on fears of omicron’s emergence, as well as reports that the Fed may begin to taper its bond-buying and other aid sooner than expected to combat inflation.

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