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Thirteen of the 61 people who tested positive for COVID-19 on two flights from South Africa to the Netherlands were infected with the super-mutated Omicron variant that is now popping up in countries all over the globe, officials revealed on Sunday.

Each passenger had to either have a vaccine certificate or a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the KLM flights, meaning either the vaccines didn’t stop infection, the tests didn’t pick up the virus, or the virus wasn’t detectable at the time the tests were performed.

Those who tested positive are confined to an airport hotel in Amsterdam, but the more than 550 people who flew with them were allowed to travel to their final destinations after a negative PCR test. Many of the passengers who were on KLM connecting flights received gift bags with sparkling win and an apology for the inconvenience.

The news of the positive tests will only add to the worldwide jitters over Omicron—which has prompted countries to ban certain flights, shaken the stock market, and sent scientists rushing to discover everything they can about the new strain.

Nearly every country in Europe now has at least one suspected case with many confirming infections linked to travel to Africa. Germany, Austria, Italy, Belgium and the Czech Republic have confirmed cases; Several other countries have identified suspect cases. In Italy, a man who flew from Mozambique to Milan tested positive at the airport on arrival, but his case was not confirmed as Omicron until he traveled south to his home near Naples. Health authorities are now scrambling to do contact tracing to determine whom he or his family might have been in contact with.

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Biden says hell send troops to eastern Europe in near term

President BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE said Friday he plans to send a small number of U.S. forces to eastern Europe in the “near term” amid growing fears of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

“I’ll be moving troops to eastern Europe and the NATO countries in the near term,” Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pittsburgh. “Not too many.” 

The Pentagon has put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for potential deployment to NATO countries in eastern Europe.  

— This breaking news report will be updated.

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