Covid-19: Outrage over conspiracy theories after death of Bulgarian emergency doctor

The head of Bulgaria’s National Association of Emergency Medical Workers, Dr Desislava Katelieva, has reacted with outrage over conspiracy theories and fake news about the death of Sofia emergency doctor Dr Julian Stamov, who died on July 3 after testing positive for Covid-19.

Dr Stamov died just more than week after being admitted to hospital in Sofia, and two days after being intubated as his condition worsened. Reports said that his colleagues believed that his death followed his attempts – at the risk of his own life – at resuscitating a patient on the way to hospital.

This is the second death of a doctor from the Sofia Emergency Department after that of Dr Neli Pandova, who died in early May.

As of July 4, according to the national information system, a total of 445 medical personnel in Bulgaria have tested positive for new coronavirus. This total includes 163 nurses, 158 doctors, 75 orderlies, five paramedics and 44 other staff. In all, four doctors and a paramedic have died.

Posting on the Facebook page of the National Association of Emergency Medical Workers, Dr Katelieva said that she had known Dr Stamov and Dr Pandova personally.

“They were amazing professionals and people. They do not deserve a debate in social networks and the media on the topic: ‘Is it true or false that they died from Covid-19?’ This debate was invented by fake news sites in which grinning smug people with fake social media profiles mock the memory of my colleagues,” Katelieva said.

“Get your dirty hands out of the memory of these clean people. Find another prey,” she said.

Katelieva said that there were several risky places for Covid-19 infection – mass gatherings, football matches, discos, parties, sports competitions, in hospitals, at work, on long trips.

“My colleagues went to work at the hospital, saving the lives of their patients, not to a stadium, or on a cruise or to the disco. They also infected their families,” she said.

“You enter our offices, opening the door with a napkin and gloves, and do not dare to sit on the chair for fear of getting infected. My colleagues spend 12 hours in this environment, and some even several weeks. They often clean and disinfect their offices, wards and ambulances themselves because there are not enough people.

“You seek out a doctor with a reason and without a reason, and sometimes you get examined in several hospitals in one day to gather more opinions. You get aggressive when you have to wait, even though you see how overwhelmed we are. My colleagues sought help just before they got worse, they even treated themselves so as not to overload the system.”

“Yes, they had comorbidities like all of you, but they could grow old with them. They loved life and yet they lost it because of you! They didn’t leave, they didn’t hide in their homes like you! They were in the ambulance, in the office, in the ward, like hundreds of my other colleagues at the moment.”

Katelieva said that she had written the posts about the deaths of the two doctors not to add unnecessary tragedy to an already tragic situation, but out of respect and with great difficulty, because like them, she had been encountering the infection face to face for four months.

“I wrote them as a warning to my colleagues, to beware, I wrote them as a cry for help that no one will hear!” she said.

Reflecting on the numbers of medical personnel who had been infected, she said that hundreds were being treated, some had gone, and were going through, the hell of intensive care units.

“Hundreds have the consequences of the disease, such as respiratory failure, depression, and so so on,” she said.

“It is not known when this pandemic will stop, how long there will be peaks and how many waves there will be in the coming months, and for that matter, for years. The real pandemics of the Middle Ages lasted for years.

“I am furious at the spreading vulgarity and malice towards us, the medics who put ourselves at risk, who get ill and sometimes lose our lives for our patients,” Katelieva said.

She said that it was unacceptable, equivalent to a DJ in Blagoevgrad at a chalga pop-folk music bar who named himself KOVID-19.

“Stop slandering and lying, if you are not human enough to express your condolences, to show respect, at least shut up!” Dr. Katelieva said.

(Photo of Dr Stamov via the Facebook page of the National Association of Emergency Medical Workers)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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