A United Airlines flight was diverted on Sunday after some passengers were removed following their behavior over a coughing and sneezing fellow flyer amid the coronavirus outbreak, multiple outlets report.
The Associated Press reported that, according to United Airlines officials, the passengers became disruptive on Flight 1562 from Gypsum, Colorado, to Newark, New Jersey, over their concerns about the seemingly sick individual, whom they were seated next to for the journey.
KUSA-TV reported that their unscheduled stop in Denver after the initial departure from Eagle County Airport saw police meet the plane and remove the passengers who took issue with the individual.
Airline officials told KCNC-TV that upon a screening, the passenger did not have a fever and was having allergy-related symptoms, and was allowed to stay on board. According to the station, the flight departed once more en route to Newark half an hour after the delay in Denver.
One passenger shared a photo taken allegedly on board the aircraft that showed a group of people gathered at the front, tweeting, “Right now on a @united flight from VAIL to Newark. Got diverted to Denver for ‘security reasons’ … now landed. Rumor is that there was a ‘couging (sic) passenger’ that is being de-planed. This is all rumor. Pilot has not given details. Stay tuned. #COVID #CoronaVirus #🤧”
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Right now on a @united flight from VAIL to Newark. Got diverted to Denver for “security reasons”.... now landed. Rumor is that there was a “couging passenger” that is being de-planed. This is all rumor. Pilot has not given details. Stay tuned. #COVID #CoronaVirus #🤧 pic.twitter.com/DFPkq1hE1v— Jordan Safirstein MD (@CardiacConsult) March 8, 2020
Turns out the passenger was freaking about being next to people who were couging/sneezing and making unreasonable requests and eventually becoming “unruly” and uncooperative.— Jordan Safirstein MD (@CardiacConsult) March 8, 2020
NO #COVID here.
This speaks to the unintended consequences of heightened awareness and #coronavirus
Hello, Jordan. We're very sorry for any concern this may be causing. While there was a situation with a passenger that caused us to remove them from the flight, we can confirm that this was in no way a medical situation. ^DD— United Airlines (@united) March 8, 2020
A third tweet on his end read, “Turns out the passenger was freaking about being next to people who were couging (sic)/sneezing and making unreasonable requests and eventually becoming ‘unruly’ and uncooperative.”
United Airlines has not responded to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but, the airline did respond to the Twitter user’s mention, writing, “While there was a situation with a passenger that caused us to remove them from the flight, we can confirm that this was in no way a medical situation.”
DANIEL SLIM/Getty Images United Airlines plane
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The story comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues to grow and affect events throughout the country. Various gatherings such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, the annual SXSW festival in Texas and the first leg of Pearl Jam‘s upcoming tour have been canceled due to the spread of the virus.
As of Tuesday, there have been 755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The majority of the cases are in Washington state, California and New York, and all three have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding.
Wisam Hashlamoun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Palestinian police officers wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus
If you’re scheduled to travel March 10 - April 30, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you’re traveling. Learn more: https://t.co/p8rqqpu0Zl pic.twitter.com/KumjbJXkxO— United Airlines (@united) March 10, 2020
On their website, United Airlines is offering passengers who have purchased tickets to fly from March 10 through April 30 the opportunity to change their flight day and time for free, “regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you’re traveling.”
They also shared what they are doing as a company in an effort to limit the potential spread of the virus, including providing new cups for drinks instead of refilling passenger cups, having flight attendants wear gloves during service for food and beverages and more.
The Centers for Disease Control has said that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is still “low,” but advises people to plan for “significant disruption to their lives” as the number of cases continues to rise.
The CDC says the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.