At 113 years old, María Branyas was already the oldest woman in Spain. Now she’s also among the oldest in the world to survive COVID-19, according to Spanish media.
Branyas tested positive for the coronavirus in April and spent several weeks isolated in her room at a care home in Olot, a Catalonian city in the country’s northeast, Spanish news agency EFE reported. Recently she tested negative.
According to posts last week on a Twitter account in her name ― established and run by Rosa Moret after her mother was named Spain’s oldest living person ― Branyas is grateful to the caregivers at her residence for their support during the illness.
She has lived in the same care home for two decades, EFE reported, and celebrated her 113th birthday there on March 4, just 10 days before Spain imposed strict lockdowns as COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in the hard-hit nation. She’s been unable to see her family since her birthday and has communicated instead over the phone.
In late March, Branyas shared on Twitter that coronavirus had arrived in her care home. Then on April 2, she gave an update, sharing her musings from isolation about what a post-pandemic future might entail.
“In the solitude of my room, fearless and hopeful, I don’t quite understand what’s going on in the world. But I think nothing will be the same again. And don’t think about redoing, recovering, rebuilding. It will have to be done all over again and differently,” the tweet, which has been translated from Spanish, said.
“I won’t be able to help you. In fact, for my age, I will no longer be there. But, believe me, you need a new order, a change in the hierarchy of values and priorities.”
Branyas was born to Spanish parents in the U.S., in San Francisco, where her father worked as a journalist in 1907. She moved to Spain in 1915.
She also lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919.
Branyas had three children ― one of whom is now 86 ― 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
Moret told EFE her mother was doing well following her recovery and considers the pandemic “a very great pain for everyone.”
In her latest observations on Twitter, the centenarian criticized the way the elderly have been treated during the pandemic and sent her best to older people who are still struggling.
“It is very sad all that this pandemic has exposed. Older people do not deserve the forgetfulness they have received,” a tweet from her account on Tuesday read. “They fought and sacrificed time and dreams for you to have an identity and a quality of life today. They don’t deserve to leave the world that way.”
Spain, which has a population of roughly 47 million, has reported more than 228,000 coronavirus cases and over 26,900 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Restrictions in some provinces have begun to ease as the country entered its first of four phases to lift its tough lockdown order this week.