Disruptive Passengers Removed from United Airlines Flight After Panic Over Coughing Fellow Flyer

A United Airlines flight was diverted on Sunday after some passengers were removed following their behavior over a coughing and sneezing fellow flyer amid the coronavirus outbreak, a rep for the company confirms to PEOPLE.

According to United Airlines officials, the passengers became disruptive on a flight from Colorado to New Jersey, over their concerns about the seemingly sick individual, whom they were seated next to for the journey.

“United Flight 1562 from Eagle, Colorado, to Newark, New Jersey, diverted to Denver due to a small group of disruptive passengers on board who failed to follow crew member instructions,” the rep tells PEOPLE of the flight, which originated at Eagle County Airport before the Denver stop. “After landing safely, the aircraft was met by law enforcement. The passengers were removed, and the flight re-departed for Newark.”

Airline officials told KCNC-TV that upon a screening, the passenger did not have a fever and was having allergy-related symptoms, and was allowed to stay on board. According to the station, the flight departed once more en route to Newark half an hour after the delay in Denver.

One passenger shared a photo taken allegedly on board the aircraft that showed a group of people gathered at the front, tweeting, “Right now on a @united flight from VAIL to Newark. Got diverted to Denver for ‘security reasons’ … now landed. Rumor is that there was a ‘couging (sic) passenger’ that is being de-planed. This is all rumor. Pilot has not given details. Stay tuned. #COVID #CoronaVirus #🤧”

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In a follow-up tweet, the passenger wrote, “Someone just got removed from @United flight. Waiting for details … People calm but increasing use of wipes 🧻 evident #COVID.”

A third tweet on his end read, “Turns out the passenger was freaking about being next to people who were couging (sic)/sneezing and making unreasonable requests and eventually becoming ‘unruly’ and uncooperative.”

“NO #COVID here,” the passenger continued. “This speaks to the unintended consequences of heightened awareness and #coronavirus.”

United Airlines responded to the Twitter user’s mention, writing, “While there was a situation with a passenger that caused us to remove them from the flight, we can confirm that this was in no way a medical situation.”

The story comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. continues to grow and affect events throughout the country. Various gatherings such as the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, the annual SXSW festival in Texas and the first leg of Pearl Jam‘s upcoming tour have been canceled due to the spread of the virus.

A source also confirmed to PEOPLE on Tuesday that the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is in talks to be postponed to October, and that Goldenvoice may make an announcement imminently.

As of Tuesday, there have been 755 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The majority of the cases are in Washington state, California and New York, and all three have declared a state of emergency to redirect funding.

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On their website, United Airlines is offering passengers who have purchased tickets to fly from March 10 through April 30 the opportunity to change their flight day and time for free, “regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you’re traveling.”

They also shared what they are doing as a company in an effort to limit the potential spread of the virus, including providing new cups for drinks instead of refilling passenger cups, having flight attendants wear gloves during service for food and beverages and more.

The Centers for Disease Control has said that the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is still “low,” but advises people to plan for “significant disruption to their lives” as the number of cases continues to rise.

The CDC says the best prevention methods are basic forms of hygiene — careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

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