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103-year-old Italian says ‘courage, faith’ helped beat virus

September 25, 2020

first_imgROME (AP) — To recover from the coronavirus, as she did, AdaZanusso recommends courage and faith, the same qualities that have served herwell in her nearly 104 years. COVID-19 can cause mild or moderate symptoms, and most ofthose who are infected recover. But the elderly and those with existing healthproblems can be at high risk for more serious illness. Asked about her illness, Zanusso is modest: “I had somefever.” “I’m well, I’m well,” Zanusso said Tuesday during a videocall with The Associated Press from the Maria Grazia Residence for the elderlyin Lessona, a town in the northern region of Piedmont. “I watch TV, read thenewspapers.” “One day she opened her eyes again and resumed doing whatshe used to before,” Furno Marchese said. The doctor recalled when Zanusso wasable to sit up, then managed to get out of bed. Her doctor asked Zanusso what she would like to do when“they open the doors.” What helped her get through the illness? “Courage andstrength, faith,” Zanusso said. It worked for her, so she advises others whofall ill to also “give yourself courage, have faith.” She grew up in Treviso, in the northeastern Veneto region,where she worked for many years in the textile industry. Zanusso, who turns 104on Aug. 16, had four children — three of whom are living — and has fourgrandchildren and three great-grandchildren. This week, Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera devoted anentire page to the stories of super-old survivors, called “healing at 100 yearsold.” The inspirational portraits are a counterpoint to news of large numbersof deaths among elderly people living in Italian nursing homes and otherassisted-living facilities. The virus has killed nearly 18,000 people in Italy and over88,000 worldwide. The World Health Organization says 95% of those who have diedin Europe were over 60 years old. Italy, along with neighboring France, has Europe’s largestpopulation of what has been dubbed the “super old” — people who are at least100. As the nation with the world’s highest number of COVID-19 deaths, Italy islooking to its super-old survivors for inspiration. “We hydrated her because she wasn’t eating, and then wethought she wasn’t going to make it because she was always drowsy and not reacting,”Furno Marchese said. Under Italy’s five-week-long lockdown, which is aimed atcontaining the spread of infections that have overwhelmed hospitals, visitorsaren’t allowed at homes for the elderly. Zanusso wore a protective mask, as did her family doctor of35 years beside her, Carla Furno Marchese, who also donned eyewear and a gownthat covered her head. In this photo taken on April 1, 2020, 103-year-old Ada Zanusso, poses with a nurse at the old people’s home “Maria Grazia” in Lessona, northern Italy, after recovering from Covid-19 infection. To recover from coronavirus infection, as she did, Zanusso recommends courage and faith, the same qualities that have served her well in her nearly 104 years on Earth. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. (Residenza Maria Grazia Lessona via AP Photo) Deaths, hospitalizations and new infections are leveling offin Italy, and Premier Giuseppe Conte is expected to announce in the coming dayshow long the lockdown will remain in place, with expectations that somerestrictions could be eased. Outside the nonprofit, 61-bed Maria Grazia Residence, the Italian flag flies at half-staff in tribute to those who died of the virus./AP “She’s old, but healthy, with no chronic illness,” herdoctor said. Her doctor said Zanusso was in bed for a week. “I’d like to take a lovely walk,” she replied. And yourthree great-grandchildren? “Watch them play together.” Of the victims, most elderly weren’t tested for COVID-19 ifthey died in nursing homes, so the numbers don’t figure into Italy’s overallcoronavirus death toll, which is the highest in the world. Medical staff “went through a very hard time,” said FurnoMarchese, the doctor. “It was a great emergency with so many residents ill, soto see a positive outcome was very rewarding, not only for me, but for all thepeople who worked hard here nonstop.” For now, Zanusso is isolated from other residents as sheawaits a follow-up swab test to confirm she is negative for the virus.last_img

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