Ten people who were rushed to hospital Wednesday after a jetliner from Dubai was quarantined in New York appear to have the flu, according to preliminary tests.
Health officials in New York said respiratory samples from the patients appear to show influenza, but they don’t have the final results.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported earlier that approximately 100 travellers and crew members complained of illness, including cough and fever during the flight.
New York’s Jamaica Hospital confirmed that three passengers and seven crew members were evaluated at the airport and later brought to hospital for treatment. Nine others refused medical attention, according to Eric Phillips, the press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The hospital says the group was “immediately isolated” and evaluated.
“With a great deal of experience in emergency management situations, Jamaica Hospital is well equipped and prepared to accommodate these patients,” the hospital said in a statement.
Phillips was among the first to suggest that the patients’ symptoms were “pointing to the flu.” He pointed out that the flight stopped in Mecca, which is experiencing a flu outbreak.
Emirates flight 203 from Dubai landed in New York at approximately 9:10 a.m. Wednesday morning and was quickly quarantined. Emergency crews and CDC officials also arrived at the scene to provide assistance.
Other travellers were checked for symptoms one by one before they were cleared for customs.
“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 a statement.
Passenger Larry Coben shared photos on Twitter of ambulances and police cars lined up on the tarmac from his plane seat window.
“All we have been told is that some passengers have fallen ill and we should remain in our seats,” he tweeted on Wednesday morning.
Later in the morning, Coben uploaded more photos showing passengers having their temperature taken by CDC officials as they disembarked. Just after 11 a.m., he tweeted that he had cleared customs and was on his way home.
Statement: Emirates can confirm that about 10 passengers on #EK203 from Dubai to New York were taken ill. On arrival, as a precaution, they were attended to by local health authorities. All others will disembark shortly. The safety & care of our customers is our first priority.— Emirates Airline (@emirates) September 5, 2018
FDNY ambulances on the tarmac to transport sick passengers. https://t.co/53AnFS2Ygk— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) September 5, 2018
Flight started in Dubai and stopped in Mecca, which is experiencing a flu outbreak. Early indications point to that as a POSSIBILITY. More to come https://t.co/61C2Lnc29z— Eric Phillips (@EricFPhillips) September 5, 2018
@emirates worst flight ever Dubai to NYC; plane was basically a flying infermary. Many of these people should never have been allowed to board. Now sitting on the ground after 14 hour flight unable to leave. @EmiratesSupport #emirates #worstairline— Erin Sykes (@SykesStyle) September 5, 2018
Deplaning and having temperature taken pic.twitter.com/MVxWqJPLTe— Larry Coben (@LarryCoben) September 5, 2018
CDC personnel on board. We will hopefully be deplaning shortly and having our temperatures taken.— Larry Coben (@LarryCoben) September 5, 2018
Cabin crew deplaning. pic.twitter.com/rZWYSk448Y— Larry Coben (@LarryCoben) September 5, 2018
Ambulances approaching the plane. pic.twitter.com/klV7Xhy0bZ— Larry Coben (@LarryCoben) September 5, 2018