Three passengers and seven crew members who fell ill aboard an Emirates plane flying from Dubai to New York City were taken to local hospitals for further medical care and evaluation, Emirates said on Tuesday night.
The incident began when passengers and crew members among the 521 people on board reported fevers and coughing, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, upon landing at 9:12am local time the plane was taken away from the terminal so that medical personnel “could board the aircraft to evaluate the situation and provide immediate assistance.”
Although the CDC initially estimated 100 people were sick, a spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio later tweeted that a total of 19 people were reported ill, of which 10 were hospitalised.
The number of ill passengers was confirmed by Emirates, with an airline spokesperson saying that an additional nine passengers “underwent additional medical screening at the site near the aircraft and were released afterwards.”
“The rest of the passengers were allowed to leave the clear customs,” the spokesperson added. “Our crew and on-ground staff extended our full cooperation with the authorities during the on-board screening and the aircraft has now been handed back to Emirates.”
A number of passengers on-board the aircraft posted updates in social media as it sat on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport, among them American rapper and television host Vanilla Ice.
“So I just landed in New York coming back from Dubai and now I’m stuck on the runway with like 1,000 police, ambulances, fire trucks, this is crazy,” he tweeted. “Apparently there is over 100 people sick on the bottom floor, so happy I’m up top.”
Another passenger described the flight as “basically a flying infirmary.”
“Many of these people should never been allowed to board,” the user wrote. “Now sitting on the ground after 14 hour flight unable to leave.”
Eric Phillips, a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office, said that some of the ill passengers had come from Makkah, which is currently experiencing a flu outbreak, adding that New York health officials are processing tests to determine the cause. The city’s acting health commissioner said that the results of the tests were expected later at night.
The return flight to Dubai, EK204, was delayed by more than five hours.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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