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Flight Diverted After Prankster Claims To Be Infected With Coronavirus

Flight Diverted After Prankster Claims To Be Infected With Coronavirus

A man trying to become internet-famous caused a plane to make a return to the airport it had taken off from hours earlier after he stood up and proclaimed that he had the novel coronavirus.

That person is 28-year-old James Potok. He was travelling on a flight between Toronto, Canada and Jamaica when he decided to let his big mouth talk him into a pair of handcuffs.

He stood up and announced to the entire plane that he had recently travelled to the 'capital of the coronavirus' in China and wasn't feeling too well.

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The aspiring musician, who has more than 30,000 Instagram followers, said his ill-advised illness outburst was 'simply a joke', but - completely understandably - no-one at all thought it was funny.

Potok is led to the back of the flight. Credit: Twitter
Potok is led to the back of the flight. Credit: Twitter

Not only is it a joke about something that has killed nearly 500 people, but it also resulted in everyone having to return back to the airport they'd taken off from. So it was in poor taste and a waste of everyone's time.

They were over Florida at the time, so almost halfway there.

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As you can see, they were so close. Credit: CBC/FlightRadar
As you can see, they were so close. Credit: CBC/FlightRadar

Speaking after the WestJet Airlines flight was diverted back to Toronto, Potok told CityNews: "About midway through the flight, I stood up, pulled my video camera out - I was going to post it to Instagram, send it to [Canadian entertainment account] 6ixbuzz so it goes viral.

"I looked around, I said 'can I get everybody's attention please' and... I followed up by saying, word-for-word, I said, 'I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus... I'm not feeling too well. Thank you.'"

Yeah, hilarious.

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The epicentre of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is actually Hubei province, not the neighbouring Hunan province.

Potok admits no-one laughed at the time. In fact, the crew members just started putting on face masks.

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Then, as he was being led off the plane at Pearson Airport, the other passengers booed the attention-seeking troublemaker off the aircraft.

On top of all that, he was arrested and charged with mischief, as well as a breach of recognisance after it was confirmed by medical staff he was not actually suffering from the virus.

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Despite his prank being a complete flop and about as funny as the actual virus outbreak, Potok insists that it was 'good for publicity'.

He added: "It would be something else if I said, 'Hey guys, I have a bomb strapped to me'.

"People blew it out of proportion."

However, he did admit: "In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best thing to do."

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He was taken from the plane in handcuffs. Credit: Twitter
He was taken from the plane in handcuffs. Credit: Twitter

Well, yeah.

He's back in court on 9 March.

A statement from WestJet said: "Out of an abundance of caution, our crew followed all protocols for infectious disease on board, including sequestering an individual who made an unfounded claim regarding coronavirus.

"Due to the involvement of law enforcement, as well as the privacy of our guests, we are not able to provide additional information about the incident at this time."

Featured Image Credit: CBC

Topics: World News, Weird

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a LADbible journalist and Twin Peaks enthusiast. Despite having a career in football cut short by a chronic lack of talent, he managed to obtain degrees from both the University of London and Salford. According to his French teacher, at the weekends he mostly likes to play football and go to the park with his brother. Contact Tom on [email protected]