As the world contends with an outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people in China, YouTuber James Potok sees the health crisis as an opportunity to increase his online following.
Potok, who goes by Potok Philippe on YouTube, was on a WestJet plane scheduled to fly from Toronto, Canada to Montego Bay, Jamaica when he allegedly stood up
and said that he had just returned from China's Hunan province and was not feeling well.
A representative for WestJet told PEOPLE that the flight was diverted due to "an unruly guest," and 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 landing and being checked for the virus, the would-be social media star was charged with Mischief and Breach of Recognizance. He is scheduled to appear at an Ontario court in March.
On Wednesday, Potok uploaded an "apology" video
to his channel.
"When I said I was sick it was supposed to be interpreted as me not feeling well from eating Chinese food," he claimed. "This was blown out of proportion, and I am here to apologize today for any issues and all problems I caused to everybody involved in the situation … Looking back at what I said, I am extremely disappointed in myself."
Potok's side of the story seems to have changed between his Tuesday interview with CBC News
and when he recorded the video. He had previously told the outlet: "I said: 'I just returned from a flight from Hunan province.' I might have said: 'This is the capital for coronavirus.' And then I said: 'I don't feel too well.' And I looked around. I saw the reception of the people. They didn't seem too happy about it. I don't blame them. And I stopped recording and I sat back down in my chair."