Couple arrested for fleeing Dutch quarantine 'were told to leave' despite positive test

Pair taken off a plane and to isolation in hospital

Passengers wait for quarantine and Covid-19 test appointments at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam. Reuters
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A Spanish woman arrested with her Portuguese husband for escaping from a Dutch quarantine hotel claims she was told she could leave, days after testing positive for Covid-19.

Carolina Pimenta and Andrez Sanz were among dozens of people quarantined at the designated site after 61 passengers on two KLM flights from South Africa tested positive for the virus – 14 of them with the new Omicron variant.

On Sunday, just two days after entering quarantine, officers removed the pair from a flight bound for Spain and placed them in isolation in hospital after they absconded.

In an interview with Dutch broadcaster RTL, the couple said they had both tested negative for Covid before boarding their flight from South Africa to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, where they had a stopover before their scheduled flight to Spain.

Their travel plans were thrown into disarray when Ms Pimenta returned a positive Covid test during their layover and the couple were placed in quarantine at the Ramada hotel.

She said that after days of asking for a re-test, and two negative self-tests, a Dutch health official and a security guard had said they should leave and would not get into trouble.

“The suggestion that we escaped from quarantine is too ridiculous for words. Nobody told us what the rules are, we were treated like dogs,” Ms Pimenta said.

She said that as a biomedical researcher, “I know how important it is that everyone abide by the rules in this crisis".

She said police had taken her from her the flight to Spain “with much fuss and screaming” and had treated her “like a criminal”.

A spokeswoman for the mayor of the local Haarlemmermeer municipality confirmed the couple were “in a hospital in the Netherlands” and said they were now under investigation for a possible crime.

“These people were asked a first time to stay in the hotel, then they were asked a second time, urgently. Now they are in isolation. What they did was not really wise,” spokeswoman Petra Faber said.

“In the Netherlands, it is not illegal to be outside when you have been tested positive (for) Covid. But when you go into a plane knowing you have it, then it is another story.”

Dutch border police confirmed the couple were taken to a hospital after being removed from the plane.

“We heard that people left the hotel, unfortunately, even if they were advised to stay there. So we had to take action and we made the arrest,” Robert van Kapel, spokesman for the border police at Schiphol Airport, told AFP.

“Now they are in a place where they are isolated, in a hospital.”

Updated: November 30, 2021, 10:56 AM