104-year-old American is world's oldest coronavirus survivor

Mr Bill Lapschies had a "moderate" case of coronavirus, according to his physician.
Mr Bill Lapschies had a "moderate" case of coronavirus, according to his physician.PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM YOUTUBE

NEW YORK - An American who survived World War II and the Spanish Flu pandemic is now the world's oldest coronavirus survivor after a miraculous recovery.

Mr Bill Lapschies, 104, displayed symptoms associated with the virus on March 5 and was quickly put into isolation at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home in Lebanon, Oregon, where he resides.

Mr Lapschies was one of the first two residents at the home to test positive for the virus. The other victim, a man in his 90s, has since died, reported The Daily Mail.

The home has reported 16 Covid-19 cases till date, out of which eight patients have recovered, one has no symptoms, two are in critical condition and two have died. The other three patients are stable.

Mr Lapschies became symptomatic around the same time Oregon recorded its first Covid-19 case in nearly Marion County.

He had a 'moderate' case of coronavirus according to Dr Rob Richardson, his physician. However, he did not develop any serious breathing problems.

Dr Richardson said that Mr Lapschies would likely have been transferred to a hospital if he had not been residing at the veterans' home.

"This could have easily gone another way," said Dr Richardson. 'There's not a lot of interventions that can be done."

The veterans' home had insisted on screening people visiting the facility and had limited vistitations in February, but that did not prevent infections from occurring.

By early March, residents began entering isolation, with Dr Richardson suspecting some of the residents had contracted Covid-19.

Two nurses in contact with Mr Lapchies and the other resident who was first infected and later died had shown the same symptoms.

Both nurses were told to get tested by the home, but were turned away with 'mild' symptoms and continued to work for a week before they both tested positive.

Mr Lapchies celebrated his 104th birthday with his family on Wednesday (April 1), 25 days since he first displayed Covid-19 symptoms.

His family brought balloons and a cake to the celebration. Everyone maintained social distancing of about six feet.

Queried by his granddaughter how he beat Covid-19, Mr Lapchies said, "I don't know. It just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything."

 
 
 

A survivor of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide, Mr Lapchies next had to endure the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In 1939, he married Alamadean 'Deanie' Buetell, with whom he had two daughters. They were married till she passed away in 2001.

He was drafted to fight in World War II in 1943. He was stationed in the Aleutian Islands, from where he would dispatch trucks and heavy equipment for the war effort, reported The Daily Mail.

Mr Lapchies daughter Carolee Brown described her father as a "wonderful family man".

Covid-19 is particularly deadly for elderly persons, especially those with underlying health conditions, with 80 per cent of coronavirus-related deaths in the US accounted for by older Americans, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other elderly people have also beaten Covid-19.

 
 
 

Ms Zhang Guangfen, a 103-year-old grandmother in China, recovered after six days of treatment in Wuhan. She is believed to be the oldest surviving coronavirus patient in China.

A 103-year-old woman in Iran also recovered after being hospitalised for a week.

In Genoa, Italy, Ms Italica Grondona, 102, was nicknamed 'Highlander' - in homage to the fictional immortal character - after she recovered following a 20-day stay in hospital.

In South Korea, the oldest survivor is a 96-year-old woman from Cheongdo County.