A Canadian man has been arrested after he falsely told passengers on a flight to Jamaica he had coronavirus, in a prank one flyer described as “really weird”.
The incident happened on a WestJet Airlines flight taking 243 passengers from Toronto to Jamaica’s Montego Bay on Monday, local time.
About halfway into the four-hour flight, the man reportedly stood up and started taking selfies before declaring he had contracted the deadly virus, which has killed close to 500 people and infected more than 23,800 others.
READ MORE: Follow our coronavirus updates
Cabin crew gave the man a mask and gloves and sent him to the back of the plane, AFP reported.
“I guess this guy thought it was a funny joke but it’s just really weird,” passenger Julie-Anne Broderick told CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“We were all very frustrated, to just displace 240 people … it’s just so selfish.
“We’ve lost a day of our holiday.”
Police and public health officials met the flight when it arrived back in Toronto.
Police arrested the 29-year-old man, from the province of Ontario, who was charged with mischief.
WestJet Airlines confirmed the flight was diverted “due to an unruly guest”.
“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,” airline spokeswoman Morgan Bell told AFP.
Another flight was booked to finally take the stranded passengers to Jamaica and return those in Montego Bay whose return flight was also cancelled.
It comes as the Diamond Princess cruise ship is quarantined at the Japanese port of Yokohama, near Tokyo, after officials confirmed at least 10 people on board have tested positive for coronavirus.