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Prankster Arrested for Coronavirus Viral Video Attempt

A Canadian man was recently arrested after he caused a scare that generated viral video content. James Potok was aboard a WestJet flight from Toronto to Jamaica when he stood up and announced to onlookers on the aircraft that he’d recently traveled to China and was feeling sick. Potok was not sick, and had not recently traveled to China, but he knew that such an announcement would cause a response from the recent outbreak of COVID-19.

That response included the pilot’s decision to turn the plane around and land back in Toronto. An official WestJet announcement explained: “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.”

Once the flight safely landed, Potok was arrested. He later admitted feeling guilty for inconveniencing the other passengers, though it’s not clear whether he learned his lesson. Potok said, “I’m an artist. Any publicity is good publicity.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

When we fail to give heed to how our actions affect the community, we can do great damage in careless fashion.


Douglas Perry, “Prankster’s attempt to create a coronavirus panic on a flight, so he could go ‘viral,’ leads to his arrest,” The Oregonian (2-6-20)

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