Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday that the new Covid-19 variant was present in the Netherlands a week earlier than previously believed, and checks are under way to see how far it has spread.
The RIVM National Health and Environment Institute said it “has found the corona variant Omicron in two test samples that had already been taken in the Netherlands … on November 19 and 23”.
The first cases in the Netherlands had been thought to be the 14 Omicron infections on two KLM flights from South Africa that arrived in Amsterdam on Friday, November 26.
However,the two earlier Dutch infections also came before South Africa first reported the new strain on November 24 to the World Health Organization, which has designated Omicron a variant of concern.
Following South Africa’s announcement of detecting the omicron variant several countries including the USA and UK were swift in imposing a travel ban on southern African countries.
The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.