A couple who were detained in a quarantine hotel close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in the Netherlands are demanding 50,000€ in compensation from the regional authorities over their alleged mistreatment.
Carolina Pimenta, 28, and her boyfriend Andrés Sanz, 30, were accused of illegally fleeing the quarantine facility in November 2021 and trying to board a flight to Barcelona where the couple live.
Pimenta had tested positive for COVID-19 following a 14-hour flight from Cape Town and was ordered into mandatory quarantine. She was one of several hundred passengers who were trapped on a KLM plane for hours after European governments reacted in quick succession to the threat of importing the Omicron variant from South Africa.
When the flight from Cape Town landed in Amsterdam in the early hours of November 26, 2021, local officials initially refused to let passengers or crew disembark because of COVID-19 fears. Those onboard were eventually let out but were swabbed and detained pending the outcome of their test.
Those who tested positive were sentenced to a quarantine order because they were deemed a “serious threat to public health”.
Pimenta claims her test result was a false positive. Both she and Sanz self-tested using rapid tests and both results were negative. Sanz never tested positive for COVID-19, while Pimenta tested negative in a follow-up PCR test that was carried out three days after her initial positive result.
“Carolina and Andrés were illegally deprived of their freedom and detained for days in an isolation room at the UMC Groningen in Haren, in squalid conditions,” the lawyer’s couple, Bart Mes told Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant.
“Among other things we are contesting the claim that there was a serious danger to public health, which has never been substantiated.”
After holidaying in South Africa, the couple were flying back to their home in Spain with a connecting flight in Amsterdam. Of the 624 passengers who were initially detained, around 44 tested positive for COVID-19 and were made to quarantine in a hotel.
Carolina says they were “treated like dogs”. She is calling on officials to issue an apology for how they were treated.
Despite the initial reaction of public health officials, the measures did little to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant which quickly spread through the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.