US man's Ebola joke quickly ends Dominican trip

AP News
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Posted: Oct 10, 2014 1:04 PM

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — An apparent joke about having Ebola quickly ended a U.S. man's trip to the Dominican Republic, officials in the Caribbean country said Friday.

The man, whose name was not released, was taken off a US Airways flight from Philadelphia by officials and checked for the disease at an infirmary, said Walter Zemialkowski, operations director at Punta Cana Airport.

Authorities determined that the man did not have Ebola and that his passport did not show from trips to Africa. They then put him on a flight back to the U.S., Zemialkowski said. The man's name was not released.

Paola Rainieri, a vice president for the company that runs the airport and the surrounding resort complex on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, said in a radio interview that the man said he had Ebola while on the plane in what was apparently a "joke in bad taste."

Video taken by passengers showed him being led off the plane Wednesday by officials in blue haz-mat suits. US Airways said in a statement that the crew was following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in response to the Ebola virus and that the flight was checked by officials and cleared.