A 113-year-old woman, the oldest person living in Spain, has now become the oldest reported survivor of the coronavirus.
Maria Branyas, a mother-of-three, survived COVID-19 whilst in the Santa Maria del Tura care home where she lives in the city of Olot, eastern Spain.
Branyas was originally born in San Fransisco in the United States on March 4, 1907 and lived through the Spanish flu pandemic that swept the world in 1918 and 1919, killing an estimated 50 million people.
Maria is considered the oldest person in Spain by the Gerontology Research Group, a global group of researchers in various fields which verifies and tracks supercentenarians – people who have reached the age of 110.
Maria Branyas, 113, is likely to be the world’s oldest person to have survived the coronavirus after catching it in April and later testing negative
While other people over the age of 100 have survived the coronavirus, Branyas is likely the only supercentenarian to have done so.
Seventeen people at the nursing home have reportedly died from the coronavirus, and despite precautions being taken to ensure Branyas did not also catch it, she was diagnosed in April.
She was isolated in her room in the care home as she fought the disease before finally testing negative.
Anyone over the age of 70 is considered to be at particular risk from the coronavirus, as is anyone with any underlying health conditions, making Branyas’ recovery even more remarkable.
Branyas has lived in a care home in Olot (pictured celebrating her birthday in the care home), in the eastern Spanish province of Girona in the Catalonia region for two decades
She reportedly said the pandemic is very sad but is not aware where it comes from or how it arrived in Spain. Maria says her health is fine, adding that she suffers small pains like everybody else and thanked the care home staff for their support.
Her daughter Rosa Moret told reporters that her mother is a strong and positive person who suffered a urine infection whilst infected with COVID-19, but the virus itself was symptomless.
The daughter said her mother was bored of being isolated in her room, receiving her last visit on her 113th birthday before visits were prohibited.
Her daughter, who opened a Twitter account for her, said that ‘now she is fine, she is willing to talk, to explain, to think, she is herself again’.
Maria’s father was a journalist from Pamplona, in the northern Spanish region of Navarra who had gone to America for work after spending some time in Mexico. He was responsible for the the American magazine ‘Mercurio’.
After some time in New Orleans, she returned to Spain in 1915 aboard a boat as her father was suffering from tuberculosis, but he passed away on-board and his body was thrown into the sea.
She also lived through World War I (1914 – 1918) and World War II (1939 – 1945), as well as the Spanish civil war between 1936 and 1939.
Branyas has had three children, 11 grandchildren (one of whom is 70 years old) and 13 great-grandchildren. Pictured: Branyas in her care home in Olot speaking to a carer wearing PPE
Maria says her health is fine, adding that she suffers small pains like everybody else and thanked the care home staff for their support
She then lived in the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Banyoles, Girona, Calonge i Sant Antoni and Palol de Revardit (all of them in the Catalonia region), and has been a resident in the care home for two decades.
Maria says ‘having good health’ is the key for a long life, adding that she never smoked but only ever went for walks with friends as a form of sport.
She married doctor Joan Moret in 1931 and had three children, 11 grandchildren (one of whom is 70 years old) and 13 great-grandchildren.
Her family are looking forward to being allowed to visit her again.
Other people over the age of 100 to have survived the disease include a 107-year-old Dutch Woman, Cornelia Ras, who lives in a nursing home in which twelve people died, and a 104-year-old American, Bill Lapschies.
Zhang Guangfen, a 103-year-old woman from Wuhan where the virus is said to have originated from, is also a survivor.
According to the latest figures from the Johns Hopkins University, Spain has registered 227,436 cases of COVID-19 and 26,744 deaths.
It was revealed in April that nearly half of the deaths in Europe resulting from the coronavirus were in care homes.
The WHO’s European director Hans Kluge revealed the staggering figureduring an April press conference, during which he labelled the deaths an ‘unimaginable human tragedy’.
Kluge said even ‘frail’ older people have a ‘good chance of recovery if they are well-cared for’ but warned that staff were lacking equipment and were often ‘overstretched and underpaid’.
Nursing home deaths are often missed out of official statistics because a shortage of tests means that residents were not confirmed to have the virus before they died.