Ebola reports starting to delay ground international flights

Posted on Oct 18, 2014

While there are only limited measures in place to screen U.S.-bound travelers for the Ebola virus, international flights in Europe are starting to be grounded, delayed and otherwise pushed off schedule due to reports of symptoms among travelers. An Air France flight with its final destination in Madrid was grounded as it arrived at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport on Oct. 16 because one passenger began displaying possible symptoms during the course of the flight, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Air France spokesperson didn't release too much information about the specific signs shown by the patient but noted that shaking - a sign of potential Ebola infection - was seen. The plane had 156 passengers aboard along with seven crew members, according to The Journal.

An Air France flight was grounded after a passenger displayed potential Ebola symptoms

Incomplete information at the scene

It's unclear at present whether the person displaying potential symptoms, who was taken to a nearby hospital for observation and potential treatment, has been positively diagnosed with Ebola. The Journal said Spanish broadcasting service RTVE provided some additional information, noting that the patient was from Nigeria and had begun traveling in Lagos.

Getting more in-depth

The initial reports from the scene were that the other passengers had been allowed to deplane and move onto their final destination after a relatively short period of time and weren't being held by authorities. However, a more recent piece from news agency Reuters said the plane was evacuated upon arrival at the Adolfo Suarez airport. Incident management at the scene appeared to be thorough as the patient was taken by ambulance to a Madrid-area hospital. That vehicle was surrounded by a police escort and the medical technicians inside were wearing full personal protective garments. The plane will be disinfected before future use, according to Air France, and the return flight previously planned was canceled.

An isolated incident that could become more common

The single incident in Madrid shows that tensions surrounding Ebola are rising, and the potential of symptoms is enough to cause a large response. Business travelers and their companies will have to prepare for both travel delays as well as exposure risks in the future. It's entirely possible that other flights will be delayed or canceled, and the display of Ebola symptoms in an airport as opposed to on a plane could lead to more widespread problems for travelers.

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