As an unidentified Black man, who was on a flight traveling from Philadelphia to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, was coughing profusely, he joked that he had been to Africa and was stricken with the Ebola virus. Not surprisingly, the man’s off-color joke sent the passengers on the plane into panic mode, according to Fox News Latino (FNL).
When the U.S. Air aircraft landed on the Caribbean island, precautions were immediately taken. The flight crew notified Dominican officials and a hazmat crew was dispatched to board the plane.
Approximately four emergency workers entered the aircraft covered in blue hazmat gear and sporting breathing masks, and many passengers whipped out their cell phones in order to capture what was going on. The hazmat team walked to the back of the plane to speak with the middle-aged-looking man who had been coughing since he boarded the flight, according to eyewitnesses.
The workers were eventually able to convince the man to accompany them off of the aircraft.
As the man walked by the passengers, he could be heard stating. “I ain’t from Africa!”
According to emergency personnel officials, the man did not have a fever, which is a tell-tale sign of the deadly Ebola virus that has killed more than 4,000 victims and stricken 8,000 so far.
The plane stood on the tarmac for nearly two hours until medical personnel could determine whether the man was in fact infected with the virus and if the 200 passengers onboard were at risk.
Thankfully, the man was not infected with Ebola!
Watch the commotion here:
As far as the jokester is concerned, Paola Rainieri, vice president of marketing and communications for Grupo Punta Cana, which owns the airport, told FNL, just how unfunny the man was in trying to scare the plane’s passengers out of their wits. “We don’t know why he did it, but he thought it would be a cute joke that would not be so serious,” she said. “Thankfully it was only a scare.”
According to Ranieri, airport security has taken increased measures to safeguard passengers from situations such as the Ebola scare. Precautions, such as having medic teams on hand, is one way airports have stepped up their efforts in trying to deal with the now-international Ebola situation. “Incidents like these affect the country, it affects people on the island,” Rainieri told FNL when asked about the prank’s potential effect on tourism. “It scares passengers and would make them not travel to the Dominican Republic.”
As far as what will happen to the jokester who was referred to as an “idiot” by one of the stewardesses on the plane, “We will demand to the appropriate authorities the immediate deportation of this passenger to his home country,” said Arturo Villanueva, vice president of the Hotel and Tourism Association of the Dominican Republic, who spoke to FNL.