CDC Detains Plane, Quickly Quarantines All Passengers After 25 Fall Suddenly Sick Mid-Flight

Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from Canada to Texas were “quarantined” on the runway after dozens of people fell suddenly ill during the flight. 

A total of 25 passengers got sick mid-flight on Friday en route from Vancouver to Houston, exhibiting symptoms of nausea and discomfort, according to the Houston Fire Department. 

Passenger James Snell told KPRC-TV that the passengers who were ill had all vacationed on the same Celebrity Cruises ship. 

“About an hour and a half before we hit Houston, they ask for if you’ve been on this cruise ship, could you raise your hand,” Snell said recounting that about 75 passengers were on the cruise where a norovirus outbreak had occurred.

“All of a sudden, the flight attendant, she put on a mask, and the guy next to me is like, ‘What do you think’s going on?'” Snell said.

“I’m like, ‘Bro, I don’t know. You know? I mean, COVID, we’re all going to die.’ You know what I mean,” he recalled.

Snell said the plane was met by fire trucks and ambulances on the runway and most passengers were held in the cabin for 45 minutes. Three passengers were removed from the plane immediately but not taken to the hospital. 

He added that things began to take a strange turn when the pilot made an announcement over the intercom.

“The pilot not only made an announcement over the speaker, but he also came out to speak to us personally, saying, ‘In my 25 years of flying, I’ve never encountered anything like this. We are now under quarantine by the CDC,'” Snell recalled.

“‘No one is allowed to disembark until we are cleared by the CDC,'” he continued.

According to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health officials from the department’s Houston Port Health Station worked with EMS to evaluate ill passengers on board.

They found that passengers only exhibited “mild GI symptoms” and no fever. 

“No passengers met CDC criteria for further public health follow-up,” the CDC wrote. “Passengers from the flight continued with their travel plans.”

A spokesperson with United Airlines released a statement saying the plane was removed and decontaminated.

“United Airlines is actively coordinating with health authorities to address the situation,” an airline spokesperson said. “As a precautionary measure, the aircraft will be removed from service and go through a deep cleaning before returning to service. Ensuring the health and safety of our passengers and crew remains our top priority.”

Snell expressed concerns about the sick individuals contributing to the spread of a new pandemic because of going their separate ways, but others online expressed shock that all of the passengers were detained in the first place. 

“Hold up…so the CDC can just detain an entire plane full of passengers just because a bunch of them have a tummy ache? That’s messed up,” said writer Kristen Mag on X. 

“If the CDC is going to quarantine every plane that has infectious people on board, there’s not going to be any planes going anywhere,” another X user commented. 

The Cleveland Clinic explained the norovirus causes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, is easily spread from person to person, through contaminated food or contaminated surfaces, and is highly contagious. 

Symptoms usually last less than three days. 

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