LONDON: A fitness influencer who branded the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a hoax has died after contracting the virus during a trip to Turkey.
Father-of-three Dmitriy Stuzhuk had woken up with a swollen neck and breathing difficulties and was hospitalized on returning to his native Ukraine.
His ex-wife, Sofia Stuzhuk, later announced that he had died from heart complications triggered by the infection.
Stuzhuk, 33, had more than 1 million followers on Instagram and had previously told them that COVID-19 did not exist.
However, in a post to fans after being taken to hospital, he said: “I want to share how I got sick and to strongly warn everyone. I was one who thought that Covid does not exist … until I got sick.
“COVID-19 is not a short-lived disease! And it is heavy,” he added.
Stuzhuk also posted a photograph of himself wearing an oxygen mask to help him breathe.
He was initially released from an overcrowded hospital in the Ukrainian capital Kiev after spending eight days there but was rushed back in within hours after his condition deteriorated.
Stuzhuk leaves behind three children David, Lola, and Olivia, the youngest of which is 9 months old.
Turkey has recorded almost 350,000 COVID-19 cases, though the Turkish Medical Association believes the true figure to be far higher.