- A Chattanooga health care worker has gone viral after making a Facebook LIVE in which she claims to have unidentifed pneumonia and a new deadlier strain of COVID-19
- Pepsie Bilal has spent the last few days updating a growing audience on her Facebook on her illness
- On Friday morning, Bilal was checked into a hospital and on Friday night she was being moved to the Intensive Care Unit
- Bilal claims she is infected with the same unknown pneumonia currently being seen in Kazakhstan
- On July 9, the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan claimed there was new unidentified pneumonia that is deadlier than COVID-19
- Kazakhstan authorities have denied the claims and the World Health Organization has said they believe the unspecified pneumonia cases could be COVID-19 as the country sees a huge spike in cases
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, a health care worker has gone viral for a live video in which she claims to have an “unknown pneumonia” that is allegedly more deadly than COVID-19. Pepsie Bilal says her COVID-19 tests have come back negative but she has been told she has a deadlier illness.
Earlier this week, Bilal posted a picture of herself with swollen and purple eyes. Half of Bilal’s sclera in her left eye was blood red. “I really hate to show this pic but people need to know this IS REAL!” Bilal wrote. Bilal claims she has a “new strand of covid” and unknown pneumonia. She says her health declined in recent days but she was still reluctant to go to the hospital. Towards the end of the post, Bilal writes, “I may be ugly as hell right now but I am alive, Im able to breathe whn I tlk and even tho I still hve pneumonia in both lungs Im a whole lot better than a week ago.”
Just a day later, Bilal posted the live video that would be seen by millions of people around the world. Her video has been viewed over 3.6 million times and has now been reshared through multiple other social media platforms. In the caption with the video, Bilal claims a clinician from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention contacted her and said all three of her tests had come back negative but they were still treating her for coronavirus and unknown pneumonia.
Bilal is seen struggling to keep her breath throughout the entire 13:25 long video. At the beginning of the video, she warns viewers that she may have to talk fast at times to get her words out. “It takes a lot, for me to talk,” Bilal struggles to get out. Bilal says she has been told to go on a ventilator but she is reluctant to do so despite her inability to keep her breath. The sclera in both of her eyes appear significantly more red than the day prior. “I have all the symptoms of COVID, but they are calling it an unknown pneumonia,” Bilal says. Bilal claims to have a new strain of COVID-19 than does not show up on tests and is deadlier. Towards the end of the video, Bilal says she also has bilateral pneumonia but still refuses to go to the hospital.
Bilateral interstitial pneumonia is a serious infection that affects the tissue around your air sacs in your lungs. It is known to develop as a result of COVID-19. Bilateral pneumonia affects both lungs and causes the tissue around your air sacs to become irritated and fill with pus and other fluids. These types of pneumonia can inflame and permanently scar your lungs if it gets worse. Bilateral pneumonia can cause difficulty breathing and lead to respiratory failure.
Shortly after her live video, Bilal posted a link to an article from the New Zealand Herald on July 10 titled “Covid 19 coronavirus: ‘Unknown pneumonia’ deadlier than coronavirus sweeping Kazakhstan, Chinese embassy warns.” The article reported the Chinese embassy in Kazakhstan warned Chinese citizens of deadly unknown pneumonia following a spike in pneumonia cases since June. “The death rate of this disease is much higher than the novel coronavirus. The country’s health departments are conducting comparative research into the pneumonia virus, but have yet to identify the virus,” the embassy warned Chinese citizens. It was not clear why the embassy defined the potentially new illness as “unknown.” The Chinese embassy notes a significant spike in cases in Atyrau and Aktobe provinces and the City of Shymkent.
Despite the claims of a deadlier unidentified illness in the region, authorities in Kazakhstan denied any such outbreak’s existence. Authorities claimed the “information does not correspond with reality.” While the Kazakhstanian health ministry confirmed there were “viral pneumonia of unspecified etiology,” the statement also said unspecified references cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed from symptoms but not confirmed through testing. Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said the cases were likely COVID-19 following a surge of over 10,000 cases in the last week. Ryan said the WHO is now looking into the quality of testing in the area and if some of the unspecified cases could be done to false-negative testing results.
Kazakhstan was the first country in the world to enter a second nationwide lockdown that began on July 5 following a spike in cases. The initial lockdown was originally going to last two weeks, but the decision to extend it was made last week while continuing to deny the existence of a deadlier illness. On May 11, the last day of the country’s first nationwide lockdown, Kazakhstan reported 5,207 COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths. As of July 13, that number had grown to 59,899 confirmed cases and 375 deaths. Along with the reported COVID-19 cases, Kazakhstan also reported 56,809 cases of pneumonia. Out of the registered pneumonia cases, 7,348 cases were viral, 9,759 cases were bacterial, and 39,702 were “unspecified” viral pneumonia cases that run a similar course as coronavirus according to the Kazakhstan health ministry.
On Friday morning, Bilal posted another image to her Facebook. Her eyes were more swollen and red then the day before. However, Bilal apparently took the advice of loved ones and went to the hospital as she is wearing a hospital gown. “So first and foremost things are remaining the same but not getting worse,” Bilal wrote. Bilal said her body was having issues oxygenating her blood which was causing the dark purpling in her eyes and areas of her face. She goes on to say she is still “refusing to be on a ventilator.” Bilal went on to say she will go on a ventilator “Only if I stop breathing or my o2sat drops.”
On Friday evening, Bilal made another update before being moved to the Intensive Care Unit. “Guess tht time has come for me to be made to go to icu. Even tho I keep denying a ventilator,” Bilal wrote. She goes on to say, “Im afraid I wont hve any say so there bet they cant stop me fight and will power.” Bilal also shared a link to a Go Fund Me that was started to help her and her 15-year-old daughter. The Go Fund Me titled, “Help my aunty in the time of need” was started by Bilal’s niece, Shelly Monroe. The campaign has raised just over $2,500 so far.