Images of the double-decker A380 aircraft isolated on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport were broadcast by US media, which reported that the plane had been quarantined.
Pictures posted on social media showed ambulances lined up on the tarmac next to the A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world.
Emirates initially announced that 10 passengers on board flight EK203 were ill. The airline later confirmed that three passengers and seven crew were transferred to hospital for “further medical care and evaluation.”
“All passengers were screened by the local health authorities prior to disembarkation,” it said. Nine passengers underwent additional medical screening on site before being released, it added.
Eric Phillips, spokesman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said there were 521 people on board and that it “appears” that some of the ill passengers had come from Mecca, which is experiencing a flu outbreak.
“Health officials are processing tests now to determine the cause. Symptoms still pointing to the flu,” he tweeted.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey confirmed that Emirates flight 203 landed at 9:12 am (1312 GMT) “with a report of multiple sick passengers.”
“The plane was taken to a location away from the terminal so that medical personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could board the aircraft to evaluate the situation and provide immediate assistance,” it said in a statement.
Larry Coben, who said he was on board the aircraft, wrote on Twitter that passengers are being asked to fill out a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention form and confirmed that CDC personnel had boarded the aircraft.
Emirates announced that the return flight to Dubai, EK204, would be delayed by approximately three hours. DM