By Steve Patterson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A passenger’s joke about Ebola causes a major scare in the air.
No one on the plane actually had the virus, but when the plane landed in Punta Cana, passengers found out just how seriously airlines are taking Ebola.
“Quiet at first – I think everybody was scared,” says Philadelphia resident Joe McCann via Skype.
He was on board when word traveled through the plane that someone was saying they were infected with Ebola.
When the plane landed, a flight attendant warned everyone to “keep your wits about you. There will be some people coming on. Please stay out of their way; please let them do their job.”
McCann waited for what he describes as an excruciating hour and a half – the time it took health officials to confirm what those on board the plane were already beginning to suspect, that it was a hoax.
“There are certain things you can’t say, and it’s not something you can joke about these days. You can’t make a joke like that. There were over 200 people on that flight, and he almost ruined a vacation for what was a stupid joke.”
McCann, who was on his way to get married, recalls seeing the passenger being hauled off the plane.
“He seemed perfectly normal – other than he did a stupid thing,” he says.
To make sure, we spoke to the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Health, who says the use of hazmat suits and temporary quarantine was by-the-book as established by world health guidelines.
McCann says it was infuriating, but he understands the response.
“[I’m] upset more than angry. You’re in a situation where there’s nothing you can do, and you can’t control it, although we felt pretty safe that nothing was going on.”