Ebola is no laughing matter, especially not at airports or on planes, where screenings have gotten tighter.
So, when a man on an flight on Wednesday may have joked that he had been to Africa and had the deadly disease, he received a special escort off the plane.
Four officials in blue plastic hazmat suits boarded U.S. Airways Flight 845 to retrieve him after it landed in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
“I was just kidding,” he could be heard saying in a video posted to social media. “I ain’t from Africa!” he continued, as he walked with the officials down the aisle of the plane.
The Dominican officials had met the plane coming from Philadelphia on the tarmac “due to a possible health issue on board,” U.S. Airways said in statement.
“We are following the direction of, and strictly adhering to, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in place for airlines in response to the Ebola virus,” the airline said.
Before the men came aboard in their bubble-like suits, a flight attendant prepared passengers for what they were about to see. Sit down and listen, she told them.
“It’s going to look worse than it is,” she said over the PA system. The glow of cell phone cameras filled the cabin and videos of what happened later hit social media.
The attendant spared the passenger who made the comment no indignity. She had seen nothing like this in 36 years of flying, she said.
“I think the man that has said this is an idiot, and I’ll say that straight out, and if you hear me that’s fine,” she announced. Then she introduced the men wearing hazmat suits over bulky breathing apparatuses.
Passengers reacted with astonishment, anger and fear.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” a passenger can be heard saying in the online video.
Others covered their faces and scooted away in their seats.”Don’t touch this guy,” someone could be heard saying.
A boo or two went through the cabin, as the man walked by. Once he was off, the officials checked the plane then gave it clearance.
CNN has not been able to confirm the comment the man allegedly made, but according to local media reports in the Dominican Republic citing the airport’s director of operations, it was:
“I have Ebola. You’re all screwed.”