The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported over 100 people ill on an Emirates flight (EK203) from Dubai to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
11 people were sent to a New York City hospital after passengers and crew complained of feeling sick (coughing and fever) during the 14-hour trip. Nine others were confirmed as sick but declined further medical care.
After completing health evaluations on everyone on board, 538 passengers had been released. The exact reason for this significant event remains unclear.
The Airbus A380 was taken to a location away from the terminal so emergency officials could evaluate the situation and quarantine. The rest of the passengers who felt well were allowed to leave and clear customs. All were advised and cautioned to call a doctor if they developed symptoms later.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, New York’s deputy commissioner for disease control, said it was rare for so many people aboard a single commercial flight to fall ill at once.
Rap performer Vanilla Ice, who was a passenger on the jet, tweeted, “This is crazy. Apparently there is over 100 people sick on the bottom floor, so happy I’m up top.”
The New York health department says that symptoms indicate that this is probably influenza but final determination is pending the lab results of the respiratory samples taken.
Passengers deplaning the flight.
A spokesman for New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, said that some of the passengers had originally come from the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, which was currently experiencing an influenza outbreak.