Anger after Air NZ health scare

A group of passengers from Japan at the centre of a health scare on an Air New Zealand flight from Tokyo earlier today have now been allowed to leave the airport.

A health scare was sparked after large group on flight NZ90 from Narita reported flu-like symptoms on arrival at Auckland International Airport.

Aviation Security Services (Avsec) isolated flight NZ90 from Narita, Tokyo, when the Boeing 777-200 touched down this morning.

Avsec General manager Mark Everitt told Newstalk ZB a group of about 70 passengers who are displaying flu-like symptoms were kept aboard the plane while the rest of the 274 on the flight were moved to a gate lounge and placed in quarantine.

He said other people at Auckland Airport don't need to worry: "We're pretty practised at this and we're very happy with the situation.''

A Japanese group of 93 teenagers travelling with 8 adults are believed to have sparked the scare.

The group has now been picked up by an agency called Let's Homestay and taken to Tauranga to be billeted with Kiwi families.

Stuart Cumdy of Let's Homestay was waiting to pick up the group and had been told all of them had been cleared and would shortly be coming through Customs.

Health authorities told Mr Cumdy all students and teachers were cleared for influenza and were fine to leave.

Passenger Lauren Borgas, 26, said she was 'red-stickered' by health authorities after sitting in a row of seats directly in front of the school group.

Men in white overalls and masks came onto the plane and eventually escorted all passengers into the airport.

Red-stickered passengers were taken into a separate room where St Johns staff took their temperatures and pulses.

Ms Borgas said when she was eventually cleared to join the other passengers in a gate lounge she was surprised to see the school group amongst them.

She said eventually a woman came into the room and told staff to remove the school group.

Her mother Rhonda Borgas was angry at the lack of information given to passengers and those - like herself - waiting on the other side of Customs to collect them.

She was still on edge about what her daughter may have been exposed to.

"If it was something really contagious it just proves we're not ready cope."

Earlier the Health Minister downplayed the situation.

Tony Ryall said it was unlikely the passengers had contracted anything worse than normal seasonal flu.

"We've been briefed on the situation, and advised that it is Japan's flu season, and there are no reports of new strains of flu there. We're keeping a watching brief but have been told there's nothing to suggest it's anything other than seasonal flu.''

Topics:  japan new zealand

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