- United is now helping health officials contact trace passengers who were on board a flight where a man died on December 14.
- United said that the wife was overheard telling an EMT that her husband did have COVID-19 symptoms, including loss of taste and smell at the time of the medical emergency.
- United said at the time of the emergency, they were told he suffered from cardiac arrest.
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United Airlines is working with health officials to contact passengers who were on a flight where a man died after an in-flight medical emergency earlier this week.
In a statement to Business Insider, a United spokesperson said United flight 591 from Orlando to Los Angeles was diverted to New Orleans after a man on board had a medical emergency and paramedics took him to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.
United said they were told he suffered from cardiac arrest.
United said that the wife was overheard telling an EMT that her husband did have COVID-19 symptoms, including loss of taste and smell at the time of the medical emergency. However, United said a medical professional did not confirm that at the time and it's unclear if he was infected.
The spokesperson also added that prior to boarding the passenger did not acknowledge having any COVID-19 related symptoms.
"The family confirmed the passenger suffered from pre-existing conditions, including high blood pressure, and upper respiratory issues, and was feeling sick leading up to the day of travel," the spokesperson said. "We can confirm that at the time of check-in the passenger acknowledged on our 'Ready-to-Fly' checklist that he had not been diagnosed with COVID-19 and did not have COVID-related symptoms, which after receiving more information about the health of this passenger it is apparent the passenger wrongly acknowledged this requirement."
The New York Times reported that four flight attendants who assisted the man were now quarantined for 14 days.
United said that passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on the one they were on, instead of switching planes because, at the time, it was thought that the man suffered from cardiac arrest.
"Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection," a spokesperson said.
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