United Airlines in talks with CDC after passenger death possibly due to COVID

FILE PHOTO: A United Airlines passenger jet takes off at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey, U.S. December 6, 2019. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

(Reuters) - United Airlines Holdings Inc said on Friday it was in talks with U.S. health officials to alert passengers on a recent flight of potential exposure to the new coronavirus after a man died following a medical emergency on the plane.

The man, on flight 591 bound for Los Angeles from Orlando on Monday, was pronounced dead by a hospital in New Orleans, where the plane made an emergency landing, the airlines told Reuters in an emailed statement.

“At the time of the diversion, we were informed he had suffered a cardiac arrest, so passengers were given the option to take a later flight or continue on with their travel plans,” the airlines said, but did not specify whether the deceased passenger had COVID-19.

United Airlines said it was sharing requested information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so it could work with local health officials to reach out to passengers of flight 591 who CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection.

“CDC is in the process of collecting information and proceeding according to our standard operating procedures to determine if further public health action is appropriate. To protect the privacy of the individual, we aren’t providing this information to the public,” the agency told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli