Fears were sparked when several of the passengers on the flight from Nice to Toulouse showed symptoms resembling those seen in people affected with the H1N1 influenza virus, which is more commonly known as swine flu.
The flight, run by Air France’s low cost subsidiary Hop, should only have been a short journey. But problems began when some of the 47 passengers began coughing and spluttering while others showed signs of having a fever.
As one French newspaper put it, the scene started to “resemble something out a disaster movie”. Worried air crew began to grill the passengers and quickly realized that almost of all of them had something in common – they had all come back from a trip to Bangkok in Thailand, via Dubai.
When the plane landed at Blagnac airport near Toulouse, concerned French authorities decided to take the step of unofficially quarantining the plane on the runway.
As if passengers didn’t feel bad enough, they were all asked to remain in their seats until paramedics came aboard to examine them one by one.
After taking several hours to check each passenger, health professionals decided to take 16 to the infectious diseases department at the Purpan Hospital in Toulouse, where tests have been carried out to see if they have been infected by swine flu. Results are expected later on Friday.
All other passengers were allowed to finally disembark and return home.
In 2009 when the presence of swine flu was discovered in France, authorities reacted by launching a mass vaccination campaign to try and keep the virus at bay.