World

10 people who fell ill on Emirates flight to New York appear to have the flu, officials say

New York City health officials say they obtained respiratory samples from the patients and their symptoms look like influenza. They say they won't know for sure until they get final results. All of the patients were listed in stable condition.

19 passengers had been confirmed as being sick, but not all went to hospital

An image made from video shows emergency crews gathering near a plane at JFK airport after passengers aboard a flight from Dubai fell ill on Wednesday morning. (WABC-7 via Associated Press)

Ten passengers and crewmembers who were hospitalized in New York City after arriving sick on a flight from Dubai appear to have the flu.

New York City health officials say they obtained respiratory samples from the patients and their symptoms look like influenza. They say they won't know for sure until they get final results. All of the patients were listed in stable condition.

The Emirates flight was quarantined after landing a Kennedy Airport Wednesday morning.

At least 19 people aboard Emirates airline Flight 203 were confirmed ill when the aircraft landed on Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport around 9a.m. ET, after as many as 100 passengers and crew reported feeling sick, authorities said. There were about 520 people on board. 

Ten of the 19 people were taken to nearby Jamaica Hospital, while the other nine declined treatment, said Raul Contreras, a spokesperson for the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Everyone else were clear," he said in an interview.

The hospital confirmed in a statement that three of the ten patients it treated were passengers and seven were crew members. It said all 10 were immediately isolated, and that no hospital operations were affected. 

The passengers had complained of symptoms including cough and fever. Earlier, Dubai-based Emirates had said in a statement that 10 passengers "were taken ill" on the flight from the Middle East and were transported to hospital. It did not specify the symptoms or nature of the complaints.

The aircraft was taken to a location away from the terminal so that emergency officials could evaluate the situation, officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said in a statement.

White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump was being updated as new information became available.

The airplane is a double-deck Airbus A380 — the world's largest passenger aircraft — according to FlightAware.com.

Passengers hospitalized

Public health officers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were working with other agencies to evaluate passengers, including taking temperatures and making arrangements for transport to hospitals, spokesperson Benjamin Haynes said in the statement.
 
Passengers who were not ill were allowed to continue with their travel plans, he said.

Larry Coben, who identified himself as one of the passengers, uploaded photos on Twitter showing dozens of police and emergency vehicles waiting outside the plane on the tarmac.

Coben tweeted that he and a number of other passengers were eventually allowed to leave the plane after filling out a form from the CDC. They had their temperatures taken on the tarmac and were then transported by bus to the airport terminal, where they made their way through customs.

The CDC, International Air Transport Association (IATA), and World Health Organization (WHO) all provide guidelines to airlines about how to proceed when a passenger or several passengers become ill during a flight. 

With files from CBC News and The Associated Press

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story quoted a tweet from a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio which said that the aircraft had stopped in Mecca before continuing on to New York City. That information was incorrect.
    Sep 05, 2018 1:55 PM ET