Outbreak of 'Coughing Sickness' On Flight of Cruise Ship Passengers Leads to Entire Plane Being Quarantined

Gatwick airport Johnny Green-Pool/Getty Images
Trevor Wilson
Trevor Wilson tweeted this image from the aircraft. He wrote: "This flight was exclusively cruise passengers from the MSC Preziosa. The illness seems to have originated on board ship not the plane." Trevor Wilson/Twitter

Emergency services personnel and police surrounded an aircraft at London's busy Gatwick airport this morning after an incident onboard a flight from Barbados.

AirLive, an aviation tracking website, said Virgin Atlantic flight #VS610 from Bridgetown was impacted. One passenger reported "being held on board" for 90 minutes upon landing because of an undisclosed 'sickness' on board which had affected some people on the flight.

Passenger Trevor Wilson posted an image to Twitter from the plane. In one update today, he added: "At reception centre now with passengers showing symptoms being examined.

"This flight was exclusively cruise passengers from the MSC Preziosa. The illness seems to have originated on board ship not the plane. Five members of cabin crew became sick on flight."

LBC radio reporter Rachael Venables tweeted today: "All crew and passengers on a flight from Barbados to Gatwick have had to be medically assessed and quarantined after an outbreak of a 'coughing sickness' on board. It was a specially chartered Virgin flight."

In a follow up, she added: "The flight landed at Gatwick at 5.20 a.m. Police boarded the plane in masks, bused everyone [to] a holding area and paramedics assessed those with symptoms. Travellers have no idea when they'll be clear to leave. Their bags are also being assessed."

Wilson described the symptoms onboard as a "bad chesty cough possibly chest infection." It has been reported some passengers have since been medically cleared and allowed to leave.

A second passenger, Phill Brown, told Newsweek that the plane was transporting customers of MSC Cruises. He said: "All passengers had been on a two week cruise around the Caribbean."

A Gatwick spokesperson said: "A small number of passengers and crew on board a Virgin Atlantic flight which landed from Bridgetown, Barbados this morning reported feeling unwell.

"The relevant authorities were informed and an assessment was taken on board. Passengers have now been able to leave the aircraft and continue their onward journeys."

In a statement to Metro, Virgin Atlantic said: "A number of customers onboard the VS610, which landed at London Gatwick this morning (March 6th) from Barbados, reported feeling unwell. As a precaution the plane was met by the relevant authorities who made the decision to screen everyone onboard, in line with standard health and safety procedures.

"The wellbeing of our customers and crew is always our priority, and we are supporting those affected. Customers have now left the aircraft and can continue their journeys as normal."

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.