Belgian couple in Dutch quarantine hotel after returning from South Africa

A Belgian couple is currently in quarantine at a hotel near to Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands after one of them was among 61 passengers on flights from South Africa that tested positive for coronavirus. While Louis tested positive his wife tested negative for the virus. The discovery of the new omicron coronavirus variant in Southern Africa has made public health officials in Europe and elsewhere nervous. 

Louis and his wife were among 600 passengers aboard two flights from South Africa that touched down at Schiphol on Friday morning. Since then, flights to and from South Africa have been suspended. Louis wishes to remain anonymous which is why we have not given his surname. VRT News contacted him by telephone. He and his wife are currently in a Dutch quarantine hotel.

“Everything was normal when we touched down at Schiphol yesterday (Friday) morning, until the pilots were given orders by the Dutch authorities that we weren’t allowed to disembark”

After a three-hour wait it was finally decided what was to be done with the passengers aboard the two flights.

“So as not to alarm us nothing was said over the loudspeakers. Finally, we were told that we would be taken by bus to a sealed terminal”.

All the passengers underwent PCR tests at the terminal. They were obliged to remain inside the terminal to await their results.

“The waiting time was chaotic. People were sat very close together, we didn’t know what would happen and there wasn’t very much food available”.

Finally, at around 3am on Saturday Louis was given his test result. It wasn’t good news.

“I was told that I had tested positive, while I don’t feel anything. But of course, that can change”. Louis’ wife tested negative. Both he and his wife have been vaccinated against coronavirus.  

Louis told VRT News that he doesn’t yet know whether he is infected with the omicron coronavirus variant. He has been told that it will be a couple of weeks before he will know for sure.

After testing positive Louis was told to isolate in a corner of the terminal. He was then taken with his wife to a quarantine hotel.

“Normally we will stay here for 5 days. We will then be tested again if the tests are negative, we’ll be allowed to return to Belgium and sit out the rest of our quarantine there”.

Louis has been in touch with the Belgian Foreign Ministry and the Dutch authorities. “They are looking into whether something can be organised for our return to Belgium”. 

Where did he become infected?

61 of the 600 passengers aboard the 2 planes that returned to Schiphol from South Africa on Friday morning tested positive for coronavirus. Louis told VRT News “I had the impression that those that were told that they had tested positive were astounded. Because no one had any real symptoms or felt ill”. 

Louis added that he has no idea how, where or when he became infected, not least because during their trip he and his wife had less contact with others that would have been the case if they had stayed at home.

“And certainly, no close contacts. It was warm there too, so everyone was almost always outside. Our temperature was taken each time we went to the restaurant, and everyone wore face coverings”.

He added that it “is difficult to say” whether he became infected aboard the plane.


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