United passenger who died may have had Covid-19 symptoms, airline says
United Airlines is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contact anyone who was on board a diverted flight from Orlando to Los Angeles after the death of a passenger who may have exhibited coronavirus symptoms.
On Monday, a man on board United Airlines Flight 591 had a medical emergency, and the flight was diverted to New Orleans, according to a United Airlines statement.
At the time of the diversion, airline staff were told the passenger had suffered cardiac arrest, a spokeswoman for the airline told CNN.
Paramedics transported him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the statement.
The passenger's wife was overheard telling the EMT that her husband had Covid-related symptoms, including loss of taste and smell, according to the spokeswoman.
However, Covid-19 was never confirmed by the medical professionals at the time, the spokeswoman said.
When he checked into the flight, the passenger acknowledged on the airline's Ready-to-Fly checklist that he had not been diagnosed with Covid-19 and did not have Covid-related symptoms, the spokeswoman said.
After receiving more information about the health of this passenger, "it is apparent he wrongly acknowledged this requirement," the spokeswoman said.
Because medical professionals initially ruled the emergency as cardiac arrest, the flight continued on to Los Angeles on the same plane, and passengers were given the option to deplane and take a later flight, according to the airline's statement. "A change in aircraft was not warranted," the airline said.
All passengers opted to continue on to Los Angeles.
The family confirmed the man had suffered from pre-existing conditions, including high-blood pressure and upper respiratory issues, and was feeling sick leading up to the day of travel.
United is sharing requested information with the CDC "so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer" the agency believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection, the airline's statement said.
The company has been in touch with the man's family and has "extended our sincerest condolences to them for their loss," according to the statement.
On Wednesday, United Airlines announced it will ask passengers for extra contact information in case anyone on their flight comes down with coronavirus.
The airline can then share that information with the CDC.
Earlier this month, Delta Air Lines also announced it would request contact tracing information for passengers coming into the United States.
So far, no major Covid-19 outbreaks have been traced to a commercial flight in the US, but until now, there have not been any widespread contact tracing efforts of passengers.
This article originally appeared on CNN