An entire Emirates airliner with 521 passengers and crew aboard was quarantined at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport overnight after more than 100 people complained of an unnamed illness.
At least 19 people aboard Flight 203 from Dubai to New York were confirmed ill by medical authorities, with 10 transported to hospital.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that initially about 100 people, including some crew, had complained of illness.
The symptoms of those onboard included extremely high temperatures and continual coughing.
The plane was taken to a “hard standing area” at the airport, separate to the main terminal, where paramedics and officials from the CDC responded to the scene.
Emergency vehicles were seen converging on the runway as the plane landed.
— Larry Coben (@LarryCoben) September 5, 2018
“CDC public health officers are working with … officials to evaluate passengers including taking temperatures and making arrangements for transport to local hospitals those that need care,” the CDC said in a statement.
Emirates airlines tweeted that the sick passengers were being attended to and those who were unaffected would be allowed to leave the plane.
An Emirates spokeswoman later told media that all passengers aboard the plane were allowed to leave by Thursday morning (AEST), adding that three passengers and seven crew members were being treated at a hospital.
“Nine passengers underwent additional medical screening at the site near the aircraft and were released afterwards,” she said.
“The rest of the passengers were allowed to leave and clear customs.”
The plane – a double-deck Airbus 380 – is the world’s largest passenger aircraft.
The White House was monitoring the situation, spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, and President Donald Trump was being updated as new information became available.
Diala Makki was travelling first-class on Flight 203 en route to New York Fashion Week when she learned from flight crew that a number of people had become sick onboard and passengers were to be detained until officials made checks.
“The Emirates cabin crew were super-helpful, they were not in panic mode, which was amazing,” Ms Makki, 36, said in an interview outside of John F. Kennedy Airport.
“Then we got the American officials check every one of us until we got out. They dealt with it really well.”
Ms Makki, a television host from Dubai, said she got “just a little bit scared” through the entire experience and was aware of reports of 100 people sick.
“That’s what I heard, but the cabin crew told me it was 10, so I don’t know,” she added.
— Erin Sykes (@SykesStyle) September 5, 2018
US ABC News reported that the pilot raised concerns prior to landing that some of the passengers were coughing and experiencing high temperatures.
The flight was delayed at takeoff and lasted nearly 14 hours, according to FlightAware.com.
“I asked the (flight attendant) for a mask before we even took off, but there was none available,” passenger Erin Sykes told CNN from the plane.
“It was so obvious that a large number of people were ill well before takeoff.”