South Africa outbreak: couple in quarantine transferred to police station

The couple and their baby were taken to a police station after bringing a bag into quarantine

The couple arrested in Johannesburg for fleeing quarantine are not infectious but were taken into custody after bringing a bag to a quarantine hospital, the Dutch health minister said.

Abdulkadir Krasniqi told Dutch public broadcaster NOS that the couple, who were flying into Johannesburg on Friday, had arrived at a hotel in the city for an extended holiday, apparently intending to return to Europe, before leaving a bulky luggage bag behind on the arrival floor.

The couple and their six-month-old child were taken to a police station, where the baby was taken to a hospital for further tests, despite having recently attended a vaccination session in the Netherlands, Krasniqi said.

However, Krasniqi told reporters he hoped there was no danger of the child contracting the disease, although the child’s immunity to the disease was low.

He said he had ordered the World Health Organisation (WHO) to step up surveillance for travellers from the Netherlands to South Africa who had recently visited the country, where the Zetzal avian flu virus has killed about 140 people since August, according to WHO estimates.

The WHO said it had not received any official request from the Dutch government.

“WHO advises countries to review current measures … and to evaluate them if possible,” said spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.

When testing positive for the virus, the H5N8 virus, the most likely side effect of the disease is respiratory distress in birds, according to WHO.

An estimated 62 million chickens and ducks were culled in South Africa after the outbreak was confirmed, although the vast majority were birds in free-range and backyard flocks. South Africa is not a major consumer of poultry imports.


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