Potok Philippe, a Canadian Instagrammer, has been arrested after causing an emergency landing in a Toronto-Jamaica flight with his coronavirus stunt. There’s been widespread disturbance about coronavirus in recent times: the rising death toll, travel bans, and the global move towards creating a vaccine.
On Monday, the 28-year-old from Ontario, who was aboard an aircraft headed for Jamaica, caused panic mid-flight after he pranked other passengers by allegedly screaming that he had the much-dreaded disease.
“Can I get everybody’s attention, please. I just came back from Hunan province, the capital of the coronavirus. I’m not feeling too well. Thank you,” Potok was said to have screamed midflight.
Medical staff in the airplane had immediately kitted Potok in a green mask, which covered his nose and mouth, and a pair of hand gloves, which he wore on his hooded sweater.
The UK Sun reports that the upcoming musician was later arrested and charged with mischief after the WestJet flight and a second plane were forced to cancel their journeys because of his prank.
“It would be something else if I said I have a bomb strapped to me or I have a weapon on me. People blew it out of proportion. To me, it was simply a joke,” Potok told Toronto’s 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 6ixbuzz so it goes viral.”
After confirming that Potok wasn’t suffering the deadly virus as claimed, medical staff checked the Canadian over at Toronto’s Pearson Airport. He’ll appear in Ontario court of justice on March 9.
Reacting to the backlash that trailed his stunt, Poktok said: “I’m very sorry for my ignorance, not understanding that it’s an epidemic. People hear the word and it becomes synonymous with threats.
“I thought it would spark a reaction. I did not think what I was doing would be considered illegal or warrant that type of response. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best thing to do.”