A 28-year-old man Canadian man has been arrested and remanded into custody after standing up on a flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Montego Bay, Jamaica and claiming he was infected with the deadly novel Coronavirus that has sickened over 24,000 people and killed nearly 500.
James Potok from Vaughan in Ontario was charged with Mischief and Breach of Recognizance and will appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton on Monday, March 9.
WestJet flight WS2702 departed Toronto Pearson airport at 9.15 am on Monday, February 3. The Boeing 737 was headed for sunnier and much warmer climes in the Caribbean but was forced to divert two hours into its journey over the U.S. State of Florida.
Potok is alleged to have stood up and announced that he had been to China and had the Coronavirus, prompting the Captain to make an immediate return to Toronto. On arrival, he was assessed by medical staff and declared symptom free.
Officers from the Peel Regional Police Department were called and Potok was taken into custody. A police spokesperson didn’t say whether drink or drugs may have influenced Potok’s behaviour or whether there was some other motive for his actions.
So far, Canada has confirmed four cases of the Coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. The Public Health Agency of Canada has deemed the risk posed by the SARS-like illness to the Canadian people as ‘low’ but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently convened an emergency response group to combat the virus.
Toronto Pearson airport has installed extra hand sanitizer stations throughout the airport and is carrying out more frequent cleaning of the arrivals areas, including kiosks and bathrooms. High traffic areas will also be regularly disinfected the airport said.
WestJet has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.