Several hundred passengers arriving in Amsterdam on two planes from South Africa faced hours of delays and testing on Friday owing to fears about a newly discovered coronavirus type.
Early Friday, the Dutch government put a ban on all flight travel from southern Africa. In a statement, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge indicated that travelers already in the air will be subjected to testing and quarantine upon landing.
Passengers on the two KLM planes from Cape Town and Johannesburg stated they were kept waiting for hours on the tarmac.
“Vigorous applause because there is a BUS that has come to take us … somewhere,” tweeted New York Times journalist Stephanie Nolen, a passenger on the flight from Johannesburg.
“Bus to a hall to a huge queue. I can see COVID testers in bright blue PPE far on the distance. Still no snacks for the sad babies,” she added in a second tweet.
The passengers “are currently being transferred to a secure location at Schiphol,” the airport said in a statement.
“Everything is done carefully and that’s why it took some time. Passengers are provided with food and drinks. They will be tested (for) the coronavirus.”
Local health authorities later clarified that only passengers that test positive for COVID-19 will be forced to quarantine. Results from the tests are expected later on Friday.
The Dutch government is expected to announce new restrictions, including the nighttime closure of bars, restaurants and most stores, later on Friday as it grapples with a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is swamping its healthcare system.