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Couple arrested after fleeing Dutch Covid hotel told they can leave the country

A couple who were being kept in enforced isolation in hospital after being arrested by Dutch military police on Sunday have been told they are free to go home.

Carolina Pimenta, 27, tested positive for Covid alongside her partner Andrés Sanz after landing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on a flight from South Africa on Friday.

The couple were transferred into quarantine at the Ramada Hotel, 10 minutes away from the airport, after a Dutch ban on flights came into force following the discovery of the omicron variant, BBC News reports.

Some 624 passengers arrived in Amsterdam from South Africa hours after the ban was implemented, with 61 of them testing positive for coronavirus, including Carolina.

Further sequencing has since discovered at least 14 of the passengers are carrying the newly-discovered strain of the virus - although it has since emerged omicron was present in the Netherlands as early as 19 November.

But Carolina, a Portuguese bio-chemical research, was adamant her test had returned a false positive, given that her Spanish partner was negative and she had already had a negative PCR test before boarding the flight.

She claims that when she asked the local health authority to take another test, they suggested that her partner borrow a bike and visit a supermarket to buy a lateral flow test - despite the fact he was supposed to be isolating too.

She also insists that - when the test returned a negative result - the Dutch police and local health team at the hotel told them they were fine to leave for the airport and use the negative PCR tests taken in South Africa to board a plane back to Spain.

However, once they left the hotel, the local mayor of Haarlemmermeer, Marianne Schuurmans, arranged for the couple to be held under an emergency order, changing their status of their quarantine to enforced.

Carolina was then arrested by military police, who boarded the plane.

The couple’s lawyer Bart Maes told the BBC: “It's shameful as a Dutch person to see how they have been treated.”

He added: “It's bureaucracy all over, no-one knows what anyone else is doing, everyone is blaming everyone else.”

“We went on a dream holiday in Africa and now we are living a nightmare. We are watching the world say we are criminals with a story that is just a lie,” Carolina added.

However, by Tuesday night, the public prosecutor decided not to seek an extension to their isolation and the couple were allowed to leave.

The couple are planning to travel to the Spanish consulate ahead of being flown on to Spain, according to Mr Maes.