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Ebola ruled out for ill passenger

05 October 2014, 14:43

New York - US disease-control agents in biohazard suits removed a sick passenger and his daughter from a United Airlines jet that landed on Saturday in Newark, New Jersey, but federal health officials later said they had ruled out Ebola as a concern.

The passenger, who was vomiting during the flight from Belgium to Newark Liberty International Airport, was escorted off the plane by officials from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and taken to University Hospital in Newark, accompanied by his daughter, according to a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport.

"Full medical evaluation revealed no evidence or concern for Ebola, and the patient was discharged from the emergency department feeling well," the Atlanta-based CDC said in a statement issued hours after the incident.

The CDC director, Dr Thomas Frieden, said on Saturday his agency has tracked more than 100 possible Ebola cases that proved to be false alarms since earlier this week, when a man who travelled to Dallas from Liberia became the first patient diagnosed with the deadly virus in the United States.

The plane's 251 other passengers and 14 crew members were held in temporary quarantine while health officials at the airport assessed the immediate situation, Erica Dumas, the Port Authority spokesperson, said. She added that all were ultimately cleared and permitted to leave the plane.

The CDC said it provided other passengers with "information they would have needed to monitor their health, should it have been determined that the ill passenger's condition was contagious." The disease-control agency also collected contact information from the travellers before they left as a precaution.

United Airlines said in a statement that passengers and crew were held while public health officials interviewed each person on board.

"Upon arrival at Newark Airport from Brussels, medical professionals instructed that customers and crew of United Flight 998 remain on board until they could assist an ill customer," a statement said.

The sick passenger and his daughter were believed to be from Liberia, WABC-TV reported. It said they had transferred to the US-bound flight in Brussels, a major hub for flights from western and central African countries.

Liberia is the West African country hardest-hit by the Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 3 400 people since March, according to the World Health Organisation.

- Reuters

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