Unknown YouTuber Arrested After Diverting Flight With Coronavirus Publicity Stunt
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Unknown YouTuber Arrested After Diverting Flight With Coronavirus Publicity Stunt

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An unknown Youtuber who calls himself Potok Philippe was forced to apologize after claiming to have the coronavirus while traveling on an airplane. Potok Philippe, whose real name is James Potok, stood up in the middle of a flight that was in the air and began to make claims about being sick with the coronavirus while filming himself. The staff on board the plane did not take these claims lightly, and began to treat it like a serious situation.

Potok stood up and told his fellow travelers that he had just recently eaten at “Hunan China” and “didn’t feel well.” His comments caused a bit of a panic and he was quickly asked to move away from the other passengers.

Once he was being asked to put on gloves and a mask and was being sequestered to the back of the plane, Potok realized that he was in way over his head, and admitted to the staff that it was a joke. The prankster told the staff that he had actually never been to China, and that it was only a joke, and while they recognized that he was kidding they were still not going to let the matter slide.

In a video that was later uploaded to his YouTube channel, Potok said: “I was sequestered at the back of the plane and the pilot said, ‘there has been a coronavirus hoax and we are now returning to Toronto.’ This is when I realized I had triggered a chaotic situation.”

“This was blown out of proportion. I am here to apologize today for any issues and all the problems that I caused for everybody involved in the situation. It was never my intent to harbor fear or create a panic on the plane,” he added.

Potok Philippe

YouTube

A WestJet spokesperson told The Independent that the flight was diverted back to Toronto due to an “unruly guest.”

Law enforcement and EMS personnel were requested to meet the flight upon arrival in Toronto.  The spokesperson also said that “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.”

After the flight was diverted back to Toronto, Potok was arrested and charged with criminal mischief. He is scheduled to appear in court on the 9th of March.

Potok had to have known what he was getting himself into, considering the heightened level of concern that people have all over the world about the coronavirus. Researchers have recently discovered that the coronavirus is airborne, which means that it is far easier to transmit than initially believed. If one person on an airplane were to actually have the virus, everyone on the flight would be at risk just through breathing the same air, so his claim was a very serious one, and was treated as such by the staff on the airplane.

What do you think? Is this a harmless prank or did the YouTuber deserve to be arrested for his prank?

Mark Horowitz is a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in political science. Horowitz could have had a job at one of the top media organizations in the United States, but when working as an intern, he found that the journalists in the newsroom were confined by the anxieties and sensibilities of their bosses. Horowitz loved journalism, but wanted more freedom to pursue more complex topics than you would find on the evening news. Around the same time, he began to notice that there was a growing number of independent journalists developing followings online by sharing their in-depth analysis of advanced or off-beat topics. It wasn't long before Horowitz quit his internship with a large New York network to begin publishing his own material online.

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