A Norwegian conspiracy theorist who believed COVID-19 was a hoax and hosted illegal house parties has died after contracting the virus.
Hans Kristian Gaarder, 60, who lived in the Norwegian town of Gran, tested positive for COVID-19 after he died on April 6.
Just days earlier on March 26 and 27, he hosted two illegal gatherings at a barn on his property, reports Norwegian news outlet NRK.
Gaarder was a high profile conspiracy theorist who made TV appearances and edited an online magazine. He is known in Norway for sharing false information about COVID-19, likening it to the common cold.
Several of his party guests have since tested positive for the virus as local officials work to track down the extent of the spread and the exact number of attendees.
Investigating party guests and figuring out their close contacts is proving to be difficult because the cluster is primarily made up of people who don't believe COVID-19 is real. Few want to admit they attended an illegal gathering.
According to Norwegian news outlet News in English, officials suspect Gaarder may have been sick for weeks without telling anyone - and as recently as March 18 he was seen posting COVID-19 denying content to social media.
He criticised the "massive measures" aimed at preventing "something that will be like a cold or light flu".
The Gran municipality requested anyone who attended the conspiracy theorists gatherings get tested for COVID-19.
"Gran municipality has become aware that two events were held, Friday and Saturday, March 26 and 27, on the man’s property," a statement confirmed.
"We do not know how many and who have participated in the event but ask the participants to take a corona test as soon as possible."
According to Metro UK, gatherings in Gran have been banned since March 16. While the country has seen lower rates of infection compared to other European countries it recently ramped up its restrictions in response to a wave of new variants causing more hospitalisations.