Canadian journalist was reporting on variants in South Africa — then Europe’s travel ban sidelined her return

After reporting on the scientists running to identify and monitor coronavirus variants in southern Africa, Canadian journalist Stephanie Nolen discovered herself caught up within the chaos even as leaving South Africa as countries closed their airports to flights from a couple of African international locations over the most recent variation, omicron.

At some element right through her flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam on Friday, the european Union introduced that its international locations could suspend entry of visitors from a few African nations — together with South Africa. While her flight arrived at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, passengers were not allowed to deplane.

“i thought, ‘Oh, smartly, that is going to be a good part of my tale,’ ” Nolen, the worldwide health reporter for the brand new York Times, advised Go Us Of A Checkup on Sunday.

The omicron variation used to be declared a version of shock by way of WHO on Friday. The European Union and other international locations, including Canada, quickly responded through enforcing travel bans to certain international locations in Africa.

It Is exhausting not to see this as South Africa being punished for the fact that it has world-elegance scientists, doing some of the best Covid surveillance within the international, and is clear approximately what they in finding.


The omicron variation has already been known in several nations, including Canada. Two cases of the coronavirus variant have been confirmed in Ottawa late Sunday. Many uncertainties remain about just how transmissible the variation is, and how critical infection it might lead to.

Experts have criticized choices by way of governments to rapidly shut borders in a bid to curb the latest variation’s unfold.

What we all know in regards to the new coronavirus variant omicronCanada’s first circumstances of the omicron coronavirus variation confirmed in Ottawa

“The Important Thing here to grasp is the virus that … South African scientists have measured just within the closing week most likely was circulating for moderately some time,” stated Dr. Prabhat Jha, professor of global well being on the College of Toronto and an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s Sanatorium in Toronto, on Checkup.

“I Believe the proper technique is not to punish the international locations, particularly South Africa, that have been so just right in reporting their data so briefly, however relatively we must always adopt very energetic testing and quarantine strategies for guests from the ones nations.”

No meals, water on tarmac

Nolen used to be aware the newest version was already making waves earlier than her departure from Johannesburg. At that point, her flight was clear to take off. 

After landing in Amsterdam, she mentioned flight attendants told passengers that they might “do one thing different” — any other spherical of COVID-19 exams. Nolen said she had already examined negative the day before departure, and 72 hours prior to that.

WATCH | Stephanie Nolen stocks what took place after touchdown in Amsterdam:

Canadian journalist was reporting on variants in South Africa — then Europe's travel ban sidelined her return

Well Being reporter details adventure from South Africa following omicron variant commute ban

21 hours ago


Stephanie Nolen, global health reporter for the brand new York Times, recently travelled to South Africa to element analysis on editions in that u . s . a .. She tells Go Usa Checkup host Ian Hanomansing about landing at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Friday after the ecu Union suspended access of travellers from a few African international locations. ELEVEN:18

Nolen mentioned she and her fellow visitors spent more than 5 hours marooned on the tarmac at Schiphol — without anything else to eat or drink.

“It was once whilst the captain came on and said, ‘We’d like to get you some meals and water, however we won’t as a result of they won’t let catering manner the plane’ that one began to be slightly bit frightened,” she recalled.

an announcement from GGD Kennemerland, a regional Dutch health authority, stated at the same time as they take into account the disappointment amongst passengers, they had been faced with an unparalleled situation.

Canadian journalist was reporting on variants in South Africa — then Europe's travel ban sidelined her return

Folks wait at a counter for quarantine and COVID-19 test appointments inside of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Nolen says she and fellow passengers on a flight from South Africa waited hours for test effects after their flight from South Africa used to be blocked through health authorities. (Eva Plevier/Reuters)

Circumstances of omicron version detected on 2 flights

5 hours in, a bus arrived to move the weary visitors to a cordoned-off airport terminal the place all passengers were swabbed, Nolen mentioned. She and others waited an additional nine hours for the test results, ending up packed into a tight line to have them introduced verbally.

Through then, it were nearly 24 hours given that they departed Johannesburg. a lot of her fellow travellers were not wearing masks, she mentioned.

“I mainly feel like i have been dipped and rolled in COVID,” Nolen stated.

Bringing Up Dutch well being authorities, Reuters said that SIXTY ONE passengers who arrived in Amsterdam from South Africa on other flights — together with Nolen’s — on Friday tested certain for COVID-19. On Sunday, officials confirmed 13 of the circumstances have been caused by the omicron variant.

I saw the most efficient of people, in South Africa’s scientists and neighborhood public medical examiners, remaining week. And the worst, at Schiphol. It’s tricky to reconcile the two.


Cleared for departure, Nolen persisted her adventure, touchdown in Nova Scotia on Saturday night time.

Whilst sitting on the tarmac of Schiphol airport, the reporter documented her ordeal for the days.

“Someday, I May savor the irony in this scenario,” she wrote, adding she had a number of time to review analysis shared along with her through scientists in South Africa.

Written through Jason Vermes with recordsdata from Reuters and Ashley Fraser.

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