US disease control agents escort man off flight in Newark: Report

The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States is now in critical condition, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States is now in critical condition, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 

NEWARK, New Jersey (REUTERS) - 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 local media said the man was not believed by federal health officials to have Ebola.

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

CDC officials were testing the man but do not believe he was sick with the deadly Ebola virus, airport officials told the New Jersey newspaper the Record.

The CDC, which has reported fielding more than 100 inquiries about possible Ebola cases that have turned out to be false alarms, could not be reached by phone or e-mail for comment.

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

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.

The first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States was confirmed this week in a man who had recently flown to Dallas from Liberia by way of Brussels.