Ten people aboard a 14-hour Emirates flight from Dubai were taken to the hospital in New York on Wednesday after health authorities in the United States mobilized to meet the jet transporting sick passengers.
Images of the double-decker A380 aircraft isolated on the runway at John F. Kennedy International Airport were broadcast by the US media, which reported that the plane had been quarantined.
The images published on social networks showed ambulances lined up on the tarmac next to the A380, the largest passenger plane in the world.
Emirates initially announced that 10 passengers aboard flight EK203 were ill. Subsequently, the airline confirmed that three passengers and seven crew members were transferred to the hospital for "more medical attention and evaluation."
"All passengers were examined by the local health authorities before the disembarkation," he said. Nine passengers underwent additional medical examinations at the site before being released, he added.
Eric Phillips, spokesman for the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, said there were 521 people on board and it "seems" that some of the sick passengers had come from Mecca, which is experiencing an outbreak of flu.
"Health officials are now processing tests to determine the cause, and symptoms still point to the flu," he wrote on Twitter.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey confirmed that Emirates flight 203 landed at 9:12 a.m. (1312 GMT) "with a report of multiple sick passengers".
"The plane was moved to a location away from the terminal so that medical personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could board the plane to assess the situation and provide immediate assistance," he said in a statement. release.
Larry Coben, who said he was aboard the plane, wrote on Twitter that passengers were asked to fill out a form from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and confirmed that CDC personnel had boarded the plane.
Emirates announced that the return flight to Dubai, EK204, will be delayed by approximately three hours.
Diala Makki was traveling first class on flight 203 on her way to New York Fashion Week when she learned from the flight crew that several people had fallen ill on board and passengers had to be stopped until officials made the checks.
"The cabin crew of the Emirates was a great help, they were not in panic mode, which was incredible," said Makki, 36, in an interview outside the John F. Kennedy airport.
"Then we got the US officials to check all of us until we got out, they sorted it out very well."
Makki, a television presenter in Dubai, said he "got a little scared" during the whole experience and that he was aware of the reports of 100 sick people.
"That's what I heard, but the cabin crew told me it was 10, so I do not know," he added.
The flight was delayed at takeoff and lasted almost 14 hours, according to FlightAware.com.