Updated on September 5, 2018, at 5:58 p.m. ET
It really did sound like the beginning of a zombie movie.
On Wednesday morning, a flight from Dubai landed in New York City, and passengers were not allowed to leave. One hundred people on the plane, initial reports claimed, had fallen ill. Ambulances and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials rushed to meet them.
For a couple of hours, before any more information emerged, the scenario conjured up scenes from The Hot Zone, in which a passenger with an Ebola-like virus hands a bag of bloody vomit—“bulging and softening, threatening to leak”—to a flight attendant. Or the novel Station Eleven, where a plane lands from a quarantined region of the world and no one ever disembarks.
But the burgeoning horror story at John F. Kennedy International Airport deflated as new information came out. Ultimately, only 19 of the 549 people on the plane were sick when evaluated, according to the mayor’s press secretary. The city health department later added in a press conference that 10 of those people were taken to a hospital—seven crew members and three passengers—with symptoms pointing toward flu. Two hours after their 14-hour flight landed, the rest of the passengers got to leave.