Twenty-six passengers flying on a Qantas flight from Chile to Australia came down with a stomach virus while mid-flight, causing 16 to be hospitalized upon arrival in Australia on Thursday.

The passengers who fell ill on the 14-hour flight were reportedly part of a tour group of high school students who were flying home from World Youth Day, a Roman Catholic event that was held in Brazil. Qantas believes that they contracted the virus before boarding the plane.

The plane was met with ambulances upon landing in Australia, and 16 of the flight's passengers were immediately quarantined and hospitalized.

“They’ve known for some time in the air that sickness was aboard so they were able to call through and organize for the appropriate authorities to greet the aircraft at the arrival, and those passengers were quarantined,” said Luke Enright, a spokesman for Qantas.

According to The Independent, the passengers who fell ill during the flight were moved to the rear of the cabin near to four bathrooms to better deal with their vomiting and diarrhea – all signs of a norovirus infection.

“It gradually wore through them all as the flight wore on, and it was 13 hours so it was a very long flight for them,” said passenger Lisa McCormick.

No statement has been made on the condition of the patients, and Qantas has informed other passengers on the flight to pay close attention to their health in the following weeks and make sure to report any symptoms.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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