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: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
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Pike3301105
Scott315373
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Copiah296465
Simpson294788
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Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
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Perry125938
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Jefferson Davis106932
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Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
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Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
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Henry188744
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Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
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Coosa107128
Sumter104332
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