A person feared to have been exposed to the Ebola virus was on board a United Airlines flight that landed at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday,officials said. But the alarm mainly caused a disruption in travel and resulted in frustrated passengers waiting on board the aircraft.
Flight 703 arrived at LAX from New York's Kennedy airport at 1:50 p.m., and a passenger began to vomit and exhibit flu-like symptoms, prompting suspicions of Ebola. However, initially it had not been confirmed whether or not the passenger had been to an area where the virus is rampant or if the person had been exposed to someone with Ebola.
But the passenger's eventual admission of travel to Africa caused unnecessary concern.
"It has turned out that there had been some miscommunication. This person had been to the continent of Africa but not near West Africa. As a matter of a fact, it was South Africa," said Capt. Jamie Moore, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The plane was taken to a distant gate at the airport and a hazardous materials crew was called out, CBS Los Angeles reported.
The patient was later determined not to have the virus and there was no risk of exposure to anyone on the flight, according to a statement from the L.A. County public health department. But passengers, largely taking the wait in stride, were forced to stay on board while precautions were taken.
One passenger, who tweeted some frustration with being held on the plane while the hazmat crew was brought to the scene, and said that the action seemed "overdone."
The passenger, Paul Holland mentioned in his tweets how close he was to the sick passenger, who was eventually removed. County officials say the individual was taken to a local hospital.
Medical staff did board the aircraft, but that wasn't before some confusion on how to proceed with the situation arose between agencies.
During the midst of the incident, passengers also anticipated having to wait a long time before they would be allowed to leave the aircraft. Another passenger, Noelle Stevenson was among them waiting.
The passengers were cleared to leave the aircraft, but only after a two-hour wait. Stevenson said in her tweets despite the frustration, the passengers remained patient until they were allowed to go.
L.A. County health officials said in the statement that all protocols were followed in this case and that "all necessary actions were taken in transporting the patient, assessing the patient's travel history and symptoms, and providing appropriate medical care."