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Sick Passenger Escorted Off Plane at BWI Amid Coronavirus Scare

The person was released after a medical evaluation, health officials say

A passenger who recently traveled to China and was showing flu-like symptoms was escorted off a plane at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Saturday afternoon "out of an abundance of caution," airline and health officials say.

Medical officers escorted the passenger, who had been to Beijing, off of a Southwest flight from Las Vegas.

The Maryland Department of Health said in a statement the sick passenger did not meet the CDC's critical for coronavirus testing, but "was referred to a medical facility for evaluation to determine whether additional follow-up is necessary."

The person was released after a medical evaluation, the health department said.

A video provided to NBC from a passenger on the flight shows other passengers wearing masks over their mouths.

"Because of this heightened time, we are just using an abundance of caution," a health official can be heard telling the passengers in the video.

In an earlier statement to NBC, Southwest Airlines said the crew followed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control "in light of the recent concerns of the coronavirus" and passengers would "receive the assistance or support they may need."

The sick passenger was previously screened and cleared in Mexico and Las Vegas, according to the health department.

The newly discovered virus from China has killed 56 people, sickened nearly 2,000 and prompted lockdowns of Chinese cities, putting the world on edge.

There are two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the U.S., one of them a Chicago woman in her 60s who traveled to Wuhan in December and returned Jan. 13. She remains hospitalized in stable condition.

As of Friday, there were more than 60 unconfirmed cases of coronavirus in 22 U.S. states.

Maryland Department of Health statement:

This afternoon, a passenger arrived on a flight from Las Vegas to BWI who showed flu-like symptoms and had recently traveled from Beijing, China.

The person did not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for 2019 novel coronavirus testing but was referred to a medical facility for evaluation to determine whether additional follow-up was necessary. Per guidance from the CDC, no special action was indicated for this person or for any other passengers or crew on the flight. 

Following evaluation by medical personnel, the person was released.

The passenger was previously screened and cleared in Mexico and Las Vegas. Information and resources are available at health.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

Southwest Airlines statement:

Local medical personnel met Flight 2889 once it arrived at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport from Las Vegas due to reports of an ill Customer. Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of the recent concerns of the coronavirus, our Crew followed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control for responding to concerns to ensure the Customer, and those traveling with them, receive the assistance or support they may need.

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