A long-haul flight from Chile to Sydney turned into a nightmare on Thursday after 26 passengers became violently ill with gastroenteritis.
The passengers were thought to be a tour group travelling back to Australia after celebrating World Youth Day in Brazil together, and it is believed they picked up the bug before they boarded the flight at Santiago, reports the Telegraph.
A statement posted on the Qantas website said: "A number of passengers travelling in the same group on QF28 from Santiago to Sydney yesterday became unwell with a gastro intestinal illness. It is believed the illness was contracted before boarding the aircraft.
"The aircraft was met by medical staff to look after the unwell passengers on landing in Sydney around 5:15pm. Of the group of 26 passengers affected, 16 were transferred to local hospitals for further assessment. Passengers are travelling on to their final destination of Melbourne this morning (Friday)."
The NSW Ministry of Health said the group developed "vomiting and diarrhoea on the plane" consistent with the norovirus infection, a common cause of gastroenteritis.
According to smh.com.au, a spokesman added: "NSW Health has provided Qantas with a letter and fact sheet about viral gastro to distribute to all departing passengers, as well as advice for cleaning and cabin staff."
The plane was quarantined upon arrival in Sydney, and was also disinfected.
The teenagers and teachers who had been on a two-week Archdiocese of Melbourne trip only had eight toilets to choose from on the Boeing 747-400.
Sixteen members of the group were taken to the Prince of Wales and St George hospitals, with three leaving the airport on stretchers, reports the NY Post.
Norovirus infections are spread by direct contact, and symptoms include vomiting and diarrhoea, and sometimes also a fever, stomach pains, headaches and muscle aches.
The young and elderly particularly can be at risk of becoming dehydrated.
Fellow passenger Madeleine Enwright, a nurse from Sydney, helped to treat the teenagers on the flight, along with two doctors who were also travelling on QF28.
She told smh.com.au: "We just took their blood pressures to see if they were severely dehydrated.
Flight from hell: 26 passengers suffer vomiting bug on Qantas plane
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