12 Feb 2020
Russian man who pulled coronavirus prank faces five-year jail sentence
Moscow Police have arrested a man who pranked commuters on a metro train by pretending to be infected with coronavirus.
The man was arrested for criminal hooliganism and could face a five-year jail sentence if found guilty.
Notably, the deadly coronavirus outbreak has claimed over 1,000 lives in China, where the virus originated, and has infected over 45,000 people worldwide.
Here are more details.
Man collapsed on train, pretended to have convulsions
In a video posted online, the man can be seen collapsing on a metro train.
When fellow commuters come in to help, the man appears to have serious convulsions.
Russia's interior ministry confirmed his arrest on Monday, adding that the police are now looking for two accomplices who provoked panic.
The video has since been removed from the website Kara.prank where it was posted.
Here's a video of the prank
Когда пранк вышел из-под контроля!— ВЕСТИ (@vesti_news) February 10, 2020
В Москве задержали шутника, разыгравшего в метро приступ коронавируса. Полиция попросила Черемушкинский суд столицы арестовать молодого человека. pic.twitter.com/fmT17RUijQ
Investigating officer said case will probably be dismissed: Lawyer
Russian interior ministry's spokesperson, Irina Volk, said in a statement, "Accomplices shouted phrases about the presence of a dangerous viral infection... provoking panic among passengers."
Raising doubts about the man's conviction, his lawyer said, "The interrogating officer himself stated that the case will probably be dismissed."
The lawyer added, "He is in shock... He did not expect all this."
Influencer arrested for pulling coronavirus prank on flight
In a separate incident, a social media influencer, James Potok, was arrested for pretending to have coronavirus on a flight.
In the flight, Potok announced that he had been to China's Hunan province and isn't "feeling too well."
The WestJet Toronto-Montego Bay flight WS 2702 then made an emergency landing.
Potok was arrested and faces charges of mischief and breach of recognizance.
What is the coronavirus outbreak?
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak involves a new strain called the SARS-CoV-2 (previously 2019-nCoV), which originated in China's Wuhan.
The virus has since spread to over two dozen nations, including India.
It causes flu-like symptoms in hosts, and in serious cases, may cause pneumonia, multiple organ failure or death.
The infection has killed 1,117 and sickened over 45,000 people, mostly in China.