A couple who were visiting a hotel in South Africa’s Cape Town which is linked to an outbreak of diphtheria were arrested Friday on suspicion of fleeing the quarantine zone. Zainab Reysar and Hakeem Khan, both 27, were detained while en route to Johannesburg. The pair had been staying at the Sentosa Hotel in Amsterdam, which opened last week, and claim they had stayed there since January 1 because it was a hotel within quarantine, according to The Local. Reysar said she and Khan had been detained for the last 24 hours “just because they didn’t have their travel documents in order.”
Reysar has said she is staying at the hotel “until we find out what happened to her child,” a 3-year-old who arrived on the same plane with Reysar and Khan to Cape Town on Friday. The family was supposed to be staying in the Cape Town suburb of Khayelitsha, which is one of several working with the anti-diphtheria volunteer program to fight the outbreak. However, they were reportedly told the disease cannot be contracted if it is not airborne, which they argue was a legal loophole they could have easily jumped through had they attempted to quarantine themselves and go straight to Johannesburg, however a spokesperson for the Cape Town Health Department said they were insisting on people leaving the quarantine zone who do not have accommodation or who have a documented employment opportunity.