Officials with the Center for Disease Control were concerned
when several passengers onboard a Continental Airlines flight from
Hong Kong appeared ill, as their plane made its way to Newark
Liberty International Airport on Monday.
The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger reports Flight 98, with 272
passengers onboard, arrive at Newark shortly after 1400 EDT Monday
afternoon, and was immediately greeted by members of the CDC's
Global Migration and Quarantine Office, based at New York's
The plane's flight crew reportedly became concerned when several
passengers, part of a 120-member tour group that had spent three
weeks in China visiting several locales such as Tianamen Square and
the Great Wall, began sneezing and coughing... which raised the
ominous specter of bird flu.
Those concerns were quickly put to rest, however, when the CDC
concluded the symptoms exhibited by passengers on the Boeing 777
were due to "seasonal flu," and not a potentially virulent strain
of avian influenza.
"It was cold there, and many of us caught colds," explained
tour member Lise Lortie.
"The first we heard of it was when we landed," added
passenger Susan Blair. "They said they had a few sick people and
had to keep the door closed until someone could be brought on board
to check them out. The pilot made it sound like they had to clear
some bureaucratic hurdles more than anything."
Passengers were allowed to deplane approximately two hours
later, according to a Port Authority spokesman.