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Couple who escaped Covid quarantine hotel arrested by Dutch police

A couple were arrested and taken from a plane in the Netherlands after fleeing a quarantine hotel and attempting to leave the country.

The couple - a Spanish man aged 30 and a Portuguese woman, 28 - were arrested on a plane bound for Spain, said the police.

Public health authority spokesperson Stefanie van Waardenburg said that one of the members of the couple had tested positive for Covid-19 and was in isolation while the other person was negative but in quarantine.

“The arrests took place in a plane that was about to take off. They were on a plane that was about to depart for Spain,” officials said.

News of the arrests came after Dutch authorities tested over 600 passengers who arrived on two flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg for omicron, the new variant of Covid-19 first found in South Africa.

A total of 61 tested positive for Covid-19 and 13 for omicron.

Just hours before the couple were held, Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge said that the Netherlands administration would ensure compliance to quarantine rules .

He added that the administration is concerned that more people may have been infected by the omicron variant.

“We are concerned, but how much we should be at this stage we don’t know yet,” said Mr De Jonge.

Police said that while the couple had been handed over to the public health authorities, it is not yet known how they escaped the quarantine hotel.

Like several other countries, the Netherlands has tightened travel rules following the spread of the new variant. In recent weeks there have also been public demonstrations against the lockdown rules which have been reimposed in the country following a surge of cases in Europe.

The WHO has said that it is working with researchers across the world to establish whether the new “variant of concern” causes “more severe disease compared to infections with other variants”.