At least 10 passengers have already been transported to a nearby hospital after an Emirates flight arriving at JFK Airport in New York City was placed under quarantine. More than 100 people on board, including crew members, have reported experiencing symptoms of an illness that has yet to be identified by local health officials.
The airport had received reports of passengers suddenly getting ill, so health officials were on the tarmac waiting to receive the flight when it arrived. Medics and customs officials boarded the plane to take the temperatures of passengers and evaluate their symptoms. Soon thereafter, the decision was made to quarantine the entire flight. Immediately the ten patients with the worst symptoms were transferred to Jamaica Hospital in Queens, with eight more under treatment at the hospital itself. Passengers that were not exhibiting any signs of the mysterious illness were permitted to continue on with their travel arrangements, according to Eric Phillips, a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D).
“Passengers who are not ill will be allowed to continue with their travel plans, and if necessary will be followed up with by health officials,” the CDC said in an official statement. The flight had a total of 521 passengers.
They symptoms exhibited by the quarantined passengers were described by officials as “flu like,” including coughing and vomiting.
“Emirates can confirm that about 10 passengers on board flight EK203 from Dubai to New York were taken ill,” the airline said. “On arrival at JFK, as a precaution, they were immediately checked by local health authorities, and those needing medical attention will be attended to. All other passengers will be disembarking shortly. The safety and care of our customers is always our first priority and will not be compromised.”
Reports indicate that a number of the passengers were actually exhibiting signs of illness as they boarded the flight, with at least one passenger asking for a mask after noticing others coughing without covering their mouths. The airline did not have any masks to offer.
“When they were standing in line to board, people were coughing,” Erin Sykes, a passenger on the flight, said. “People were not covering their mouths. I proceeded to put my jacket and the blanket over my head for the entirety of the flight because so many people were coughing, and so dramatically,
Officials have stated that there seems to be no sign of terrorist activity associated with the unusual breakout, but an emergency response crew is on the scene.