Airline passenger arrested over false coronavirus claim says he did it for ‘publicity’

By | February 5, 2020

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An airline passenger who falsely claimed he had the coronavirus aboard a WestJet flight — and bought arrested for it — now feels his prank was “presumably now not the finest component to make.”

James Potok, a 28-365 days-historical aspiring musician from Ontario, Canada, says he made the false claim while trying to film a viral video for “publicity” aboard the flight, which was in the waste forced to divert aid to the Toronto Pearson Worldwide Airport on Monday.

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The airplane was sure for Montego Bay, Jamaica. Experiences demonstrate it had already reached airspace over Florida by the point it was forced to divert aid to Canada.

Potok, who furthermore goes by Potok Philippe, told Tononto’s City News that he bought out of his seat about “midway thru the flight” with the intention of filming a viral video for Instagram.

“I looked spherical, I said, ‘Can I acquire all people’s attention? Please, can I in point of fact possess all of your attention?’ After which I followed that by announcing, I deem I [said] discover for discover, ‘I lovely came aid from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus… I’m now not feeling too effectively’ … That was exactly what I said.”

Potok — who presumably was unaware that the coronavirus was first detected in Hubei, and never Hunan — said the crew soon quarantined him in the aid of the airplane. “When I saw we had been flying aid to Canada, I kinda, , I kinda 2nd-guessed what I did was the coolest component to make or now not.”

The flight was only an hour away from landing in Jamaica when it was forced to divert back to Canada, according to Potok's own estimation.

The flight was utterly an hour away from landing in Jamaica when it was forced to divert aid to Canada, in step with Potok’s gain estimation.
(iStock)

He added that he was “now not trying to scare any individual,” nonetheless then tried to protect himself, announcing he by no strategy genuinely said he had the coronavirus. He furthermore puzzled the crew’s resolution to expose the airplane spherical and return to Canada, in keep of let a airplane stuffed with folks — who did now not know they had been now not in hazard of contracting the coronavirus — proceed on their tear to Jamaica.

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Alternatively, Potok began his interview with City News by announcing, “It was factual for publicity. Yeah, that’s what we’re trying to make.”

In an interview with Canada’s World News, he added that “any publicity for myself is factual publicity.”

Pictures from contained in the airplane, bought by CityNews, furthermore reveals Potok, carrying a camouflage and gloves, trying to protect his comment as he was escorted away from assorted passengers on the airplane.

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Following the flight, WestJet shared a assertion calling Potok an “unruly visitor” who made “spurious claims” on the airplane.

“We sincerely deliver feel sorry about to the 243 guests who had been tormented by this unhappy grief,” the airline wrote in a assertion shared with Fox News earlier this week. “Out of an abundance of caution, our crew followed all protocols for infectious disease on board, collectively with sequestering a one who made an spurious claim referring to Coronavirus.”

Upon landing, the flight was met by both medical personnel and law enforcement officials. Potok was arrested and charged with mischief.

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He’s due in court in March, the CBC reported.