113-year-old Spanish woman beats coronavirus

Spain's elderly care homes have been badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak (AFP Photo/Gabriel BOUYS)

A 113-year-old woman, believed to be the oldest person living in Spain, has beat the coronavirus at retirement home where several other residents died from the pandemic, the residence said Tuesday.

Maria Branyas, who was born in the US, was infected with the virus in April at the Santa Maria del Tura care home in the eastern city of Olot where she has lived for the past 20 years and fought the infection in isolation in her room.

“She survived the disease and is doing fine,” a spokeswoman for the residence told AFP, adding Branyas had only displayed mild symptoms of the disease.

“She feels good now, she took a test last week and the result was negative,” the spokeswoman said without giving further details.

Branyas, a mother of three, was isolated in her room for weeks, with only a single employee decked in protective gear allowed in to check on her, according to Catalan regional television TV3 which broadcast images of the centenarian.

In the video Branyas can be heard calling the staff at the residence “very kind, very attentive”. When an employees asks her for the secret of her long life, Branyas replied simply that she was lucky to enjoy “good health”.

The care home, which was founded in 1969 and has room for just over a hundred residents, has recorded “several” coronavirus-related deaths during the pandemic, the spokeswoman for the residence said.

Branyas’ daughter Rosa Moret told the station that her mother was “in shape, wanting to talk, to explain, to reflect, she has become herself again”.

Several articles have been published in Spanish media in recent years about Branyas, considered to be the oldest person in the country.

She was born on March 4, 1907 in San Francisco where her father who was from northern Spain worked as a journalist.

Branyas moved to Spain with her family aboard a boat during World War I (1914-18) and also lived through the Spanish flu pandemic that swept the world in 1918-19 as well as Spain’s 1936-39 civil war.

Spain has been one of worst-affected countries in the world by the pandemic, with nearly 27,000 COVID-19 deaths recorded so far, according to health ministry figures.

The elderly are especially vulnerable and in Spain as in other European countries the coronavirus has claimed many victims among seniors living in retirement homes.


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