Touching down in London just after 9:00 a.m. local time, United Airlines Flight 901 arriving from San Francisco was one of several planes locked down today after a passenger was determined to have displayed symptoms consistent with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, according to reports.
Other passengers told Sky News that, upon landing, the captain had announced that they’d need to remain in their seats and wait for officials to board the plane because someone aboard had been “taken ill”.
British passenger, Andy West, disclosed that the crew let slip that the sick person may have coronavirus and described airline staff ushered the individual to the back of the plane. He noted that no one was wearing any form of protective gear or face masks.
The plane wasn’t allowed to park at the terminal and was reportedly one of eight aircraft that were simultaneously put on lockdown at the Heathrow tarmac. West told the Daily Mail that the plane’s captain further informed them that they may be delayed for some time because seven other planes had also reported suspected coronavirus cases upon arrival.
London has been on the watch for further cases of the novel coronavirus after receiving its first confirmed case on February 12.
Passengers aboard were asked to fill out a contact form for Public Health England and were allowed to disembark normally about 25 minutes later. The sick individual was reportedly kept behind with his/her luggage.
Just landed @heathrow T2 and captain has announced that someone on the plane has suspected #coronavirus. noone allowed to leave the plane! waiting for doctor confirmation expected either way. person isolated at the back of the plane. [fingers-crossed] false alarm!
West, who works in public relations, said that he was “a bit surprised” that they had been allowed to leave without taking any further precautions or receiving any official advice. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried,” he stated. “My reaction was ‘wow’.”
A United Airlines spokesperson told Business Insider: “The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority and we are working closely with Public Health England regarding this individual case. Our crews are trained and ready to respond to anyone on board the aircraft who may become ill in flight and we continue to follow additional precautions recommended by the Public Health England. The aircraft has undergone a deep clean, which includes cleaning all surface areas and overhead bins.”
The spokesperson went on to say that United has not yet received word from the government health organization about whether the case was confirmed to be coronavirus or symptoms were simply due to some other ailment.
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