RIO DE JANEIRO, Apr 13 (Reuters) – When Brazilian Gina Dal Colleto, 97, was hospitalized on April 1 with symptoms of coronavirus, few would have thought she would survive the deadly virus.
However, on Sunday Dal Colleto left the Vila Nova Star hospital in Sao Paulo in a wheelchair, to the applause of doctors and nurses: the oldest known survivor of COVID-19 in the nation most affected by the outbreak in Latin America .
Her unexpected recovery was a beacon of hope in Brazil, where the disease exposed the collapse of the public health system more, amid a fierce political debate on how best to tackle the spread of the virus and prop up the country’s economy.
Dal Colleto, the only survivor of an Italian family of eleven brothers, lived alone in the port city of Santos, Rede D’Or São Luiz, controller of the Vila Nova Star hospital, said in a statement.
“Even with almost a century of life, Gina has a very active routine and likes to walk, shop and cook,” the statement said. “He has six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.”
While hospitalized, Dal Colleto received oxygen and was admitted to intensive care, according to the statement.
On Sunday, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said 1,223 people with the disease, 99 more than the previous day’s total. Brazil now has 22,169 confirmed cases.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a former far-right and army captain, has rejected social distancing measures imposed by state governors and even his own health officials.
Bolsonaro wants the economy to revive, arguing that prolonged quarantines pose a greater risk than a disease he calls “a flu”.
(Report by Gabriel Stargardter and Marcela Ayres; Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)