WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- At least 100 of the 500 people on board a flight from Dubai reported symptoms probably caused by influenza.
- After paramedics and CDC officials screened all passengers of the Emirates Flight 203 and a few people at the airport, most have been cleared for travel.
- Passengers pointed out that several people were already sick before take-off, but there were no available masks, and the crew did not say anything until minutes before landing.
At least 10 people – three passengers and seven crew members – were tested for respiratory illness after landing from an Emirates Flight, which originated in Dubai and landed just after 9 a.m. Wednesday at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.
According to New York City acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the cause of the illness is “probably influenza”.
Out of at least 500 people on the Emirates Flight 203, about 106 reported symptoms such as fever, coughing, or vomiting.
After officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) screened all passengers, as well as nine other people at the airport, most were cleared to continue their travels.
A CDC official told CNN that authorities are looking into respiratory illnesses like influenza, and, just to be safe, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), a viral respiratory disease first identified in 2012.
Musician Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, was apparently in the plane and said that there were “tons of ambulances and fire trucks and police all over the place” when he landed. He added that the illnesses were in the lower cabin.
One passenger, Erin Sykes, told CNN that people were already showing signs of illness while they were at the airport in Dubai.
“I asked… for a mask before we even took off, but there was none available,” Sykes added. “It was so obvious that a large number of people were ill well before take-off. People were coughing the whole time. Now some people have fevers over 100. They should never had been allowed to board.”
She also pointed out that the crew didn’t say anything about the sick passengers until about 30 minutes before landing.
Another passenger, Larry Coben, documented ambulances converging on the tarmac, CDC forms that passengers were asked to fill out, and passengers having their temperatures taken. He was able to go home about two hours after landing.
Passenger Srinivasa Rao said that after completing the forms, they were told that the passengers would be tracked for any possible illness in the next three weeks.
While he was “happy” with the great response, he said “they should have checked these people before they got onto the flight.”
The Port Authority source said after landing, the plane was taken to a “hard standing area,” where paramedics and officials from the CDC responded to the scene.
The sick passengers suffered from headache, sore throat, coughing, and fever, according to the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.