The initially mysterious illness that prompted Emirates Airlines Flight 203 to be quarantined upon its arrival to JFK International Airport in New York Wednesday is likely just a bad case of the flu and cold, health officials said Thursday.
As we shared yesterday, the 14-hour flight arrived to JFK Wednesday morning from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Before landing, the crew told ground control that several passengers had come down with symptoms of fever, “non-stop coughing,” and vomiting. This prompted local and federal health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to initiate a brief quarantine as passengers—including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II star Vanilla Ice—were checked out.
Early reports indicated that more than 100 people out of the 549 passengers and crew member onboard the flight were sick, but it was later determined that only 19 people displayed any signs of illness, Reuters reported Wednesday. Ultimately, 11 people were taken to a local hospital in Queens, with the rest being allowed to continue their travel.
Test samples of those taken to the hospital revealed they had common respiratory viruses, including influenza, CDC spokesperson Benjamin Haynes told The New York Times.
In a tweet this afternoon, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene similarly announced that the 10 passengers with similar symptoms sent to the hospital only had traces of the common cold or the flu in their system. The agency added that it expects the passengers to be sent on their way soon (So much for living out my The Strain fanfic).
Regardless of the outcome, the Emirates flight has put airlines elsewhere on guard. On Thursday, NBC Philadelphia reported, passengers from two separate American Airlines flights arriving at Philadelphia International Airport were also quarantined after showing flu-like symptoms. Though some of these passengers have been released, others are still being medically evaluated, according to Customs and Border Protection officials.