An aspiring Soundcloud rapper, named James Potok, was arrested when he 'joked' that he had the coronavirus on a flight from Canada to Jamaica.
Potok, who describes himself as an 'artist,' with more than 30,000 followers on Instagram and 216 fans on Soundcloud was on a WestJet flight from Toronto to Montego Bay when he tried to make a 'viral video.'
Reports state that during the flight Potok began informing his fellow passengers that he had recently visited the Wuhan area of China, where the deadly virus originally broke out.
According to CityNews, Potok was heard saying:
I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus, I’m not feeling too well. Thank you.
Given the worry surrounding the coronavirus, which has now killed more than 500 people in China, including the doctor who first warned of the disease, WestJet decided to turn the plane around, which had 243 onboard and fly back to Toronto.
Speaking upon his return to Canada, Potok told Global News that he was attempting to go viral before apologising for his actions.
I was looking to get a viral video.
I figured it would invoke some kind of reaction, like ‘this kid’s got some balls’ or ‘this kid’s crazy,’ whatever it is.
Potok also claimed that he had pulled a previous stunt which, in hindsight, isn't as controversial.
I pulled my phone out. I made a viral video and got up. I said, ‘Can I have your attention? Can I have your attention? Everyone stopped and looked.
I said, ‘Lil Wayne’s new album just dropped. Everybody go get it.’ No problem with that — sat back down, landed. Everybody got off, no issue.
I'm an artist. Any publicity for myself is good publicity.
Global News also quotes Tiffany Richards who onboard the flight with her mother and recalled Potok saying:
What he basically said (is), ‘I need everyone’s attention. I have just returned from Wuhan, one of the capital cities of China, and it’s an epicentre for the coronavirus.
I’m feeling really, really sick right now. I think I might be infected. I need everyone to stay away from me, like please don’t come near me.
He repeated himself a couple of times, and that was that. And he sat down. My mom was very concerned she actually asked the flight attendant so she could have a mask too.
WestJet said that the reason for turning the flight around was "out of an abundance of caution" and that the crew followed all the protocols for infectious diseases.
Peel Regional Police later confirmed that Potok was arrested on Monday in connection to the incident and charged with 'mischief and breach of recognizance.'
Potok will appear in court on March 9.
He has also offered an apology about the incident on YouTube.
HT The Verge