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Grandfather, 80, dies from coronavirus – as he thought Melbourne had beaten the disease

A Greek immigrant grandfather who was convinced Melbourne had beaten coronavirus at the end of the first lockdown has died from the disease.  

Haralambos Bakirtzidis, 80, called an ambulance to his home as he believed he had the flu but was told by nurses he didn’t need to go to hospital. 

One of his four daughters, Athina, said her father, who came to Australia in the 70s, never wore a mask outside and visited his local TAB and shopping centre even though he was sick.  

Mr Bakirtzidis’ health rapidly deteriorated and he couldn’t eat, sleep or drink, so an ambulance was called again and he was admitted to a Footscray hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19. 

He spent the next 11 days on a ventilator with only his wife Nikik, who also had coronavirus, by his side until he died.

Mr Bakirtzidis was unable to understand the doctors while he was in hospital so Athina had to regularly Facetime to assist with communication. 

‘He told me ”I don’t want to die.” And I told him you have to trust the doctors,’ Athina told 9News.   

‘I wish I could have tied him to his chair at home. I wish I could have yelled at him. I wish had done a lot more and said ”Dad, no. If you go (out) this is how it will affect us,”’ she said. 

She was allowed to visit her father in hospital before he died and read him his last rites – a Catholic tradition of saying last prayers – while she wore full protective gear with a plastic barrier separating them.  

The family will continue to wait for their mother to recover from the deadly virus. 

Once she is home, they plan to bury their father, but are upset they can’t give him the proper funeral he deserves. 

Athina warned elderly Melburnians to remain cautious and follow coronavirus guidelines so they reduce the risk of catching the disease.  

Victoria recorded 300 new coronavirus cases and another seven deaths on Friday.

The shocking death total is the largest of any state throughout the pandemic after New South Wales recorded five on 28 April and Victoria also recorded five on Thursday.

All of Friday’s deaths were elderly 2in aged care. The state’s death toll is now 55 and the national toll is 138.

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