Canadian man flying from Toronto to Jamaica falsely claims he has coronavirus, forces plane to return to airport - GulfToday

Canadian man flying from Toronto to Jamaica falsely claims he has coronavirus, forces plane to return to airport


A Westjet plane lands at La Guardia International Airport in New York. File/ AFP

Gulf Today report

When you are travelling on a plane, the last thing that you would like to see is another passenger behaving off the wall or weirdly.

However, in recent times there have been several instances of such behaviour.

In one case last year, passengers leaving Wuhan international airport were fuming when  a fellow passenger threw coins for good luck at the plane’s engine. Result: the plane’s takeoff was delayed.

Canada-Airport-1 Flight crews are seen wearing face masks at the international arrivals area of Toronto Pearson Airport. AFP

In yet another case, a passenger started shaving his head with an electric razor while comfortably seated in business class.

Yet another traveller opened the emergency exit door of the aircraft because she felt the atmosphere inside was too frowsty and wanted “a breath of fresh air.”

Now, in the latest manifestation of such wacky behaviour, a Canadian man on a flight from Toronto to Jamaica falsely announced to passengers that he had the coronavirus, forcing the plane to return to the airport where he was arrested, police said on Tuesday.

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The incident occurred on Monday during a WestJet Airlines flight from Toronto to Montego Bay. The Boeing 767 was carrying 243 passengers.

"A male was causing a disturbance on the flight, saying he had been to China and had the coronavirus," said Sarah Patten, a spokeswoman for police in the town of Peel, close to Toronto's Pearson international airport.

After the plane landed, the 29-year-old man was checked by medical staff who concluded he did not have the coronavirus. He was arrested, charged with mischief and will appear in court on March 9, Patten said by phone.

Julie-Anne Broderick, a passenger on the plane, said she saw the man taking a selfie and announcing he had the virus.

Canada-Airport-2 Travellers are seen wearing face masks at the Pearson Airport in Toronto. AFP

"The flight attendants came, gave him a mask and gloves and just told him that he had to move to the back of the plane," she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The captain then told passengers he thought the incident was a hoax but had to return to Toronto, she added.

WestJet apologised for the incident, which it blamed on an unruly passenger.

"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," it said in a statement.

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