A Ukrainian fitness influencer who denied the existence of Covid-19 has died of the disease, leaving behind his bereaved ex-wife – who is also a social media celebrity in their country - and their three young children.
Dmitriy Stuzhuk, 33, died of heart failure at the weekend and was kept in a sealed coffin – contrary to Ukrainian tradition – with numbers of mourners restricted to avoid infection.
In his final Instagram post he told his 1.1m followers he wanted to “firmly warn everyone: I too thought that there was no Covid, that it was all relative – until I got sick”. Then he wrote “COVID-19 IS NOT A PASSING SICKNESS! It’s serious”.
On the second day of a trip to Turkey, he wrote, he woke up with a swollen neck and difficulty breathing.
On returning to Ukraine, he tested positive for the virus, but decided to stay at home with an oxygen supply rather than go into hospital, as he feared poor-quality treatment in the struggling health service.
His ex-wife Sofia Stuzhuk, a fashion guru with 5.2m Instagram followers, paid him warm tribute. She wrote: “We went through so much together – you were by my side through sadness and joy, you taught me so much."