The passenger boarded an Arik Air plane out of Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday night, but passed away before the plane reached its final destination.
Flight attendants called the CDC, Port Authority and customs officials, who then boarded the plane as it touched down, forcing 145 worried passengers to remain on board.
The authorities then conducted tests on the body and it was only a short evaluation that suggested he did not have the deadly virus, prompting concerns there are still ‘vulnerabilities’ in airports.
Throughout the ordeal, the door connecting the aircraft to the terminal was left open, prompting worries from Republican Congressman Peter King that there are not enough checks in place before reaching the screening process.
In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, he wrote: ‘It was what I was told a cursory examination. The Port Authority cops and personnel from Customs and Border Protection were there, and they were told there was no danger because the person did not have Ebola,’ King said.
‘But their concern was, how could you tell so quickly? And what adds to the concern is how wrong the CDC has been over the past few weeks.’
He added: ‘These individuals transit the airport with the rest of the traveling population, including using the restrooms,’ King wrote to Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in a letter Thursday.
Nigeria is 1,000 miles east of the three West African countries suffering from an Ebola outbreak, but has had 19 cases of the virus.
However there have been no new patients in recent months and, according to the World Health Organization, if there are no more by Monday, they will officially be declared ‘Ebola-free.’
Up to 100 passengers a day arrive at JFK from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three West African countries ravaged by the outbreak King said.
Concern: The scare at JFK involving the passenger from Nigeria prompted Republican Congressman Peter King to write to the Department of Homeland Security, suggesting there are still ‘vulnerabilities’ at airports
Action needed: The representative for New York’s 2nd District asked if the potential of having isolation zones within the terminal had been looked at