Photo taken on Nov. 1, 2021 shows a COVID-19 testing station in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. (Xinhua/Sylvia Lederer)
The Omicron coronavirus variant has been detected in test samples taken in the Netherlands from Nov. 19 to 23 this year, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) announced on Tuesday.
"In a special PCR test, the samples showed an abnormality in the spike protein," the RIVM stated. "This raised the concern that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus might be involved."
Two samples were confirmed as the Omicron variant. It is not yet clear whether these people had also visited southern Africa. RIVM has alerted the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) in the regions where the samples were taken. The GGD will notify the people involved and start source and contact tracing.
The Omicron variant was first reported in South Africa. Last Friday, 624 people arriving from South Africa in The Netherlands were tested for the coronavirus at Schiphol Airport and 61 of them positive. In total, the Omicron variant has been found in 14 of those people, according to the latest RIVM data.
"Laboratory tests identified several different strains of the Omicron variant," the RIVM stated. "This means that the people were very probably infected independently from each other, from different sources and in different locations."