Around 100 passengers were kept back on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Værnes for more than two hours – but with little good reason for the fear.
The dreaded Ebola disease is ravaging throughout several countries in West Africa and countries, like Norway, are on guard to prevent the disease spreading further.
Chief physician in the Stjørdal municipality, Leif Vonen, said to NRK: “There was suspicion of an infectious disease and thoughts went quickly to Ebola. But it became clear from the health situation that this was not the case. The person had just an innocent respiratory infection.”
Health authorities, several ambulances and police arrived to the airport when a possibility for danger of contamination aboard the KLM airplane was announced.
One of the travellers wrote in an SMS to the newspaper “Adresseavisen”: “We were informed that one of the passengers aboard came from Africa and that we cannot leave the airplane because of it.”
It was later known that the passenger didn't come from West Africa, but from the Eastern part of the continent.
Acting head of airport, Per Jarle Ingstad, said to NRK: “It is very unusual that we keep passengers back [from leaving the airplane], but because of the Ebola situation in West Africa, the health authorities have their routines.”
According to Avinor, the airplane landed at Værnes at 4.15pm. Two hours later, everyone was allowed to leave the airplane.
Passenger Knut Lorås told the newspaper “Trønder- Avisa”: “The head physician of the municipality has been here to examine the victim. The cause of the contamination alarm was that one of the passengers got a coughing fit. They announced to all passengers that no one was allowed to leave the airplane due to routine procedure.”
The head of press in the Norwegian Health Directorate, Berit Kolberg Rossine, confirmed to NTB that all the passengers were released from the airplane when it was discovered that the passenger being the cause to the alarm was thoroughly examined and confirmed as not infected by a dangerous disease.
Rossine says: “It showed that it was not as feared.”
Chief physician in Stjørdal municipality, Leif Vonen, is critical of the fact that it took such a long time before health personnel were in place at the airplane. He said to NRK: “I think the health personnel came too late. It took an hour. But police were quicker to show up.”
However, passengers had to wait for two and a half hours before the situation was cleared up.
Leif Vonen added: “Making sure that the person arrived at a hospital instead of sitting on an airplane is the most important issue. If there really was a contaminated person among them, a waiting time of almost two hours inside the airplane would be too long time.”