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Coronavirus prank forces WestJet flight to return to Toronto


An Ontario man on a WestJet flight from Toronto to Jamaica has been charged with mischief after claiming to have the coronavirus after takeoff and forcing the plane to return to Toronto.

Just two hours into a WestJet flight to Montego Bay, passengers from Toronto had their trips unexpectedly cut short on Monday after a passenger claimed he had the coronavirus.

Julie-Anne Broderick, a passenger on the Flight WS 2702 told CBC News the plane was over Florida when “all of a sudden we felt the plane do a pretty dramatic turn.”

Earlier the man had stood up, announced that he was recently in China and had contracted the disease, according to Peel Regional Police.

Coronavirus prank forces WestJet flight to return to Toronto

“That announcement was shared by the flight crew to the captain and a decision was made for the plane to return back to Pearson [International Airport],” said Const. Bancroft Wright.

Broderick told CBC that “she saw the man taking a selfie and telling passengers around him that he had the coronavirus. 

“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 said. 

The captain informed the 243 passengers that, because of the incident, they couldn’t land in Jamaica or the U.S. and had to return to Toronto.

The captain said he believed it was a hoax, according to Broderick. 

The plane landed around 2:10 p.m. ET and the 29-year-old Thornhill man, was arrested and charged with mischief. 

WestJet apologised to the 243 passengers. 

WestJet told CBC that two flights were cancelled due to the incident and they added an extra flight on Tuesday, both to and from Montego Bay, for those affected.

with files from CBC News

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