A man with coronavirus died on a plane as fellow passengers ignored the risk and performed CPR in the aisle in a desperate bid to save him.
The man's wife was overheard telling paramedics he had been displaying symptoms of Covid-19, including a loss of taste and smell, for the past week, it is alleged.
It is said he was seen shaking and sweating and having a hard time breathing even before the United Airlines flight took off, and his condition rapidly deteriorated while the plane was in the air.
Harrowing video shows passengers performing CPR on the man as he lay in the aisle. Photos show people standing inside the cabin and medics in the aisle following an emergency landing in the US city of New Orleans.
Tony Aldapa, a paramedic, and others risked potential exposure as they tried to save the man. He has since been experiencing symptoms.
He tweeted: "I made the decision to attempt to save the passengers life and along with 2 others performed CPR for close to an hour until we landed. And continued to help the firefighters when they came onboard.
"I knew the risks involved in performing CPR on someone that potentially has Covid but I made the choice to do so anyways. I spoke with the passengers wife about his medical history and she never mentioned he was positive, she said he was scheduled to have a test done in LA.
"I spent the remainder of the flight covered in my own sweat and in that man's urine. I have since become symptomatic myself and am awaiting the results of my second test.
"Looking back I would not change my actions, but I may have stepped up earlier. Knowing I had the knowledge, training and experience to help out, I could not have sat idly by and watched someone die."
The man was removed from the plane and pronounced dead in hospital.
His seat was wiped down as all other passengers remained on board, and the plane continued its journey to Los Angeles.
It is alleged the man lied when he checked in and told United Airlines staff he didn't have any Covid-19 symptoms, leaving fellow passengers furious.
One woman wrote on Twitter: "Can I ask how you guys let a Covid positive man on my flight?
"He was shaking and sweating boarding the plane. He was clearly sick and then died mid flight. We had an emergency landing in New Orleans and we didn't even switch planes afterwards.
"We all sat there for hours waiting while you guys cleaned up his blood and germs with wet wipes. Is this how you guys handle other people's safety and health?"
She added: "Everyone was aware this was Covid related because the wife was relaying his medical information, and shared he was in fact Covid positive and symptomatic for over a week. That is them (United Airlines) covering up the fact that they handled this situation poorly."
Another woman added: "United, why did you never check our temperatures before boarding?
"An entire plane had to watch him seize or have a heart attack none of us know which, and die."
She said she noticed the man having breathing difficulties, adding: "I made eye contact with his wife and looked at him and she just looked down."
As medics spent an hour trying to revive the man, "the family was crying, people were freaking out," the woman added.
She said: "He was shocked twice, given an epi-pen, 2 shots of adrenaline and mouth to mouth after chest compressions."
United Airlines said it was later informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the man tested positive for coronavirus.
The airline said the man had filled out a form before the flight saying he had no symptoms and had not tested positive.
United said it was initially told the passenger died of heart problems as it explained why the flight continued its journey to Los Angeles.
Health officials are now trying to contact other passengers.
Flight attendants have been ordered to self-isolate for two weeks.
A spokesperson said: "Our flight diverted to New Orleans due to a medical emergency and paramedics transported the passenger to a local hospital where the individual was pronounced deceased. We have been in touch with his family and have extended our sincerest condolences to them for their loss.
"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.
"Now that the CDC has contacted us directly, we are sharing requested information with the agency so they can work with local health officials to conduct outreach to any customer the CDC believes may be at risk for possible exposure or infection.
"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place such as mask mandates and requiring customers to complete a ‘Ready-to-Fly’ checklist before the flight acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 14 days and do not have Covid-related symptoms."
Passengers stand inside the cabin amid the desperate effort to save the man