Passenger describes being quarantined on plane

Passenger Larry Coben describes the moment the Emirates plane was greeted by CDC officials after several passengers reported illness on a flight from Dubai.

Posted: Sep 6, 2018 8:22 AM
Updated: Sep 6, 2018 8:54 AM

About 10 people who were aboard an international flight that landed Wednesday at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport are being evaluated at a hospital and tested for respiratory illness, officials said.

The cause of the illness on Emirates Flight 203 is "probably influenza," New York City acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told reporters.

She said doctors will know more when they get the results of respiratory tests done on the three passengers and seven crew members late Wednesday.

About 106 of the more than 500 people on the flight, which originated in Dubai and landed just after 9 a.m., reported symptoms like coughing, fever or vomiting, she said.

All the passengers were screened by officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as were nine other people at the busy airport in the borough of Queens. Most passengers were cleared to continue their travels.

A CDC official familiar with the situation earlier told CNN that authorities looking into the cause of the illnesses were considering respiratory illnesses like influenza -- and out of an abundance of caution, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, a viral respiratory disease first identified in 2012.

Musician turned home remodeling show star Vanilla Ice tweeted a video, apparently from the plane, with the caption: "So I just landed from Dubai and now there is like tons of ambulances and fire trucks and police all over the place."

"The Vanilla Ice Project" host said the plane had two decks and the illnesses were in the lower cabin.

Vanilla Ice, whose real name is Rob Van Winkle, didn't say whether he was cleared to travel again Wednesday.

One passenger told CNN from the plane that people were showing signs of illness while they were at the airport in Dubai.

"I asked the (flight attendant) for a mask before we even took off, but there was none available," Erin Sykes said. "It was so obvious that a large number of people were ill well before takeoff."

The nonstop flight was a smooth one, Sykes said, so she didn't believe the ailments were related to turbulence or air sickness.

"People were coughing the whole time. Now some people have fevers over 100," she said. "They should never had been allowed to board."

The crew didn't say anything about passengers being sick until about 30 minutes before the aircraft landed, she said during a later interview inside the airport.

"The captain did make an announcement and said, 'We're not going to be able to deplane right away because there's been a couple people sick,' but that was all the information we got," Sykes said.

Passenger Larry Coben's tweets documented ambulances converging on the tarmac, CDC forms that passengers were asked to complete, passengers disembarking and having their temperatures taken, and passengers then taking a bus to the terminal.

"Happy to report that I am through customs and on my way home," Coben tweeted just after 11 a.m. ET.

Passenger Srinivasa Rao said that after filling out the forms, officials told them they would "track" the passengers to make sure they didn't come down with any ailments in the next three weeks. While he was pleased with the response, he said he felt more should have been done to ensure passengers were healthy before boarding the flight.

"I'm very happy that they have taken such a great care," he said. "I'm really surprised and I'm happy about it, but the most important point is they should have checked these people before they got onto the flight."

The plane was taken to a "hard standing area," where paramedics and officials from the CDC were responding to the scene, the Port Authority source said.

A statement from Jamaica Hospital Medical Center said the sick passengers suffered from coughing, headache, sore throat and fever.

"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 agency said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 503322

Reported Deaths: 10057
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34400541
DeSoto32318411
Hinds32074631
Jackson24551386
Rankin22103391
Lee15657235
Madison14662281
Jones13894243
Forrest13506253
Lauderdale12037318
Lowndes11091192
Lamar10531138
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Lafayette8581140
Hancock7751130
Washington7458161
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Monroe6796178
Warren6752176
Pontotoc6736104
Neshoba6656206
Panola6572131
Marshall6494135
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Union607794
Pike5849154
Alcorn5691102
Lincoln5468135
George502979
Scott474198
Tippah472481
Prentiss471582
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Itawamba4651105
Tate4632111
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Copiah450092
Simpson4458116
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Newton383179
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Stone360664
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Attala335290
Winston315391
Clay309077
Chickasaw302367
Clarke295894
Calhoun279947
Holmes268788
Smith266550
Yalobusha237247
Tallahatchie228752
Greene220649
Walthall219364
Lawrence213640
Perry206456
Amite206056
Webster203446
Noxubee186940
Montgomery179757
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169639
Tunica160139
Benton149439
Kemper142141
Choctaw134627
Claiborne132838
Humphreys129738
Franklin120728
Quitman106828
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson95934
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 821255

Reported Deaths: 15424
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1149051930
Mobile726651340
Madison52400699
Shelby37685350
Baldwin37285552
Tuscaloosa35147613
Montgomery34130740
Lee23556246
Calhoun22255490
Morgan21037378
Etowah19844500
Marshall18390304
Houston17406412
St. Clair16091339
Cullman15493293
Limestone15402199
Elmore15292286
Lauderdale14366295
Talladega13870283
DeKalb12670261
Walker11255370
Blount10227176
Autauga10061148
Jackson9909185
Coffee9215191
Dale8912186
Colbert8907201
Tallapoosa7103198
Escambia6782134
Covington6724183
Chilton6658162
Russell637659
Franklin5992105
Chambers5615142
Marion5016127
Dallas5013202
Pike4799106
Clarke477284
Geneva4577127
Winston4538103
Lawrence4352117
Bibb425686
Barbour358376
Marengo338390
Monroe332064
Randolph330264
Butler328596
Pickens317384
Henry313166
Hale311988
Cherokee303260
Fayette294580
Washington251651
Cleburne247960
Clay245568
Crenshaw245475
Macon235563
Lamar225747
Conecuh186654
Coosa180940
Lowndes175764
Wilcox169139
Bullock151844
Perry139240
Sumter133338
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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