Dozens of people were rushed off a Qantas flight for medical treatment in Sydney on Thursday after a stomach bug struck mid-journey, triggering a mass vomiting episode.
Qantas said a â€œnumber of passengers travelling in the same group on QF28 (between) Santiago and Sydney became unwell with a gastro intestinal illnessâ€ on the 14-hour journey to Australia.
Media reports said between 20 and 30 passengers were vomiting as they disembarked in Sydney and were met by a fleet of ambulances.
â€œIt is believed the illness was contracted before boarding the aircraft and symptoms became evident during the flight,â€ Qantas said in a statement.
â€œThe aircraft has been met by medical staff to look after the unwell passengers.â€
As a precaution, Qantas said all other passengers on the flight were advised to monitor their health closely over the next 24-48 hours.
Health authorities said they had been advised that â€œ26 passengers returning on a Qantas flight from Santiago, Chile, developed vomiting and diarrhoea on the plane, consistent with norovirus infection, a common cause of outbreaks of gastroenteritis in Australia and elsewhereâ€.
â€œNew South Wales Health has provided Qantas with a letter and factsheet about viral gastro to distribute to all departing passengers, as well as advice for cleaning and cabin staff,â€ the stateâ€™s health office said in a statement.
It said the sick group was assessed by paramedics and escorted out of the airport â€œwith minimal exposure to other passengersâ€ after they were cleared to go home.
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Â© 2013 AFP