After profusely vomiting, a man died Thursday on a flight from Nigeria to New York’s JFK Airport. The incident sparked fears that the deadly Ebola virus might have reached New York City.
The New York Daily News reports workers from the Centers for Disease Control, clad in protective gear, swarmed the Arik Air flight when it arrived at the terminal gate in New York.
Passengers were held on board for about 45 minutes until officials could determine what killed the 63-year-old American citizen.
A Port Authority source said it was later determined that the man died of a heart attack.
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But New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, said in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson that he still had concerns about the incident and characterized the exam performed by the CDC as “cursory,” according to the New York Post.
“It was what I was told a cursory examination. The Port Authority cops and personnel from Customs and Border Protection were there, and they were told there was no danger because the person did not have Ebola,” King said. “But their concern was, how could you tell so quickly? And what adds to the concern is how wrong the CDC has been over the past few weeks.”
The letter, which was also addressed to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske, calls on officials to beef up protocols at airports in order to protect citizens from contracting the virus that is estimated to have killed as many as 4,000 in West African countries.
“Given the high volume of travelers at JFK, it is essential that extraordinary measures are taken to intercept possible Ebola-infected passengers,” King added.
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Ebola has already surfaced in Dallas, Texas, where it killed a man who had only recently travelled to the U.S. from his home country of Liberia. Two other hospital workers have also been reported to have contracted the disease while treating him.
But unlike Liberia, which is among the three countries hardest hit by Ebola, Nigeria has only seen 19 cases.
The Daily Mail reports there have been no new cases in recent months and the World Health Organization is poised to declare the country “Ebola-free” Monday.
There were 145 passengers on the flight from Nigeria that landed at JFK Thursday night.
The CDC refused to comment on the passenger who died.