A married couple was arrested on a plane in the Netherlands on Sunday as they tried to flee the country after escaping from a quarantine hotel, officials said Monday.
The 30-year-old Spanish man and his 28-year-old Portuguese wife were collared “in an airplane that was about to depart” for Spain from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee police spokesman Stan Verberkt told Agence France-Presse.
One of them had tested positive for COVID-19 and went into isolation, while the other was negative but in quarantine, Public Health Authority spokeswoman Stefanie van Waardenburg said, according to the outlet.
She added that both were placed back in isolation after bolting from the hotel in the northwestern Kennemerland region where infected passengers from South African flights were staying.
“They have now been transferred to a hospital elsewhere in the Netherlands to ensure they are in isolation. They are now in so-called forced isolation,” said Petra Faber, spokesperson for Haarlemmermeer municipality, where Schiphol is located just outside the capital city, according to Reuters.
They could be prosecuted for violating Dutch quarantine rules, the BBC reported, citing the De Telegraaf newspaper.
It was unclear whether the infected person had tested positive for the new Omicron variant.
In all, 61 of the more than 600 passengers on the flights to Schiphol Airport from Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday tested positive for COVID-19 — 13 of them with the new Omicron variant.
Most are staying at the hotel, though some Dutch residents were allowed to quarantine at home.
The 600 people spent most of Friday stuck at the airport being tested in conditions that one person described as “dystopia central,” as Dutch officials announced stricter new travel protocols amid mounting fears around the globe about the new variant.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that Dutch authorities would ensure that people obeyed quarantine rules.
“We will control whether they keep to those rules,” he told reporters.
The Netherlands has recorded almost 20,000 confirmed COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic, but data shows the country has recorded 1,124 deaths per million of its population — one of the lowest numbers in western Europe.