Emirates Flight Carrying Numerous Sick Passengers Quarantined At JFK

The cabin crew deplaning
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The cabin crew deplaning Courtesy Larry Coben

A plane with an unconfirmed number of sick passengers has been quarantined after landing at JFK Airport on Wednesday morning.

Airport sources tell NBC that around 100 passengers fell ill aboard an Emirates flight, which landed at the airport just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The double-deck plane was carrying around 500 people from Dubai to New York—a 14 hour journey. [UPDATES BELOW]

According to Emirates, just 10 people—not 100—were sick at the time of landing.

One passenger, Erin Sykes, tweeted "People were sick before we even took off from Dubai. Like really nasty colds. I asked stewardess for a mask bf we even took off but there were none."

Another person aboard the plane shared a photo of emergency vehicles outside the plane, adding, "We are hearing over 100 people on board w/fever and vomiting."

At around 10 a.m., flight crews were reportedly being transferred to ambulances, some of them with temperatures over 100 degrees.

The Mayor's Office has confirmed the quarantine, and Port Authority police and Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials are at the scene, according to the Post. The Port Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this summer, a Spirit airlines flight out of LaGuardia was diverted due to a potentially hazardous "dirty socks" smell, which apparently caused chest pains and complaints of burning throats in some passengers.

This is an ongoing story and we'll update as more information becomes available.

Update 10:45 a.m.: CDC personnel are aboard the plane, and FDNY ambulances are waiting on the tarmac to transport sick passengers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been briefed, according to his press secretary. He added that the flight stopped in Mecca, which is currently experiencing a flu outbreak. [edit: never mind]

Update 11:00 a.m.: A spokesperson for the FDNY confirmed that 10 people are en route to Jamaica Hospital, all of them with non-life-threatening injuries. A spokesperson for the mayor added that "a few others" are showing symptoms and may still be transported to the hospital.

Around 40 people have been cleared to go through customs, the spokesperson said. Those who did deplane were placed on a bus after having their temperatures checked by health officials. There now appears to be some confusion about whether those passengers should be allowed in the airport.

Update 11:30 a.m.: Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton provided the following statement:

At 9:12 a.m. today, Emirates Flight 203 from Dubai landed at JFK Airport with a report of multiple sick passengers. The plane was taken to a location away from the terminal so that medical personnel from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could board the aircraft to evaluate the situation and provide immediate assistance before passengers deplane and are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The PAPD and Port Authority airport operations staff are coordinating closely and providing support to the CDC and CBP as necessary. The CDC will provide further updates as they become available.

Update 12:45 p.m.: All passengers on the flight have been evaluated and permitted to leave the plane. Nineteen people found to be sick, though only ten were transported to the hospital, according to the mayor's spokesperson. "Symptoms still pointing to the flu," he added.

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