102-y-o woman recovers from COVID-19 days before birthday

We don’t imagine there are too many people who will ever be able to say they survived the Spanish flu, a world war and the coronavirus.

(Right) Helga Guðmundsdóttir, 102 year-old COVID19 survivor.
(Photo: Jóhannes Kr. Kristjánsson)

But that’s exactly what a 102-year-old woman from Iceland did when she recovered from the COVID-19 virus, according to a United Nations report.

Helga Gudmundsdottir was placed under quarantine at her nursing home in the West Fjords at the beginning of April. She was declared virus-free just days before her 103rd birthday.

Fortunately for the centenarian, she had the support and care of her granddaughter, Agnes Veronika Hauksdóttir, who had left the healthcare field but returned to help out at the nursing home where she resides when the virus pandemic struck.

Helga also survived tuberculosis and has been in good health for most of her life. So good was her health that, at 98, she was denied entry into her town’s nursing home as she was considered too well to qualify.

However, she was eventually accepted, later ending up among dozens who were infected by COVID-19.

According to the granddaughter, she thought “that’s it”, when Helga’s temperature hit 38 degrees, but the elderly woman ended up bedridden for only one day “although she suffered stomach pains,” the younger woman said. “She is so tough that she forced herself to drink.”

Iceland has been one of the most successful countries at tackling the coronavirus, limiting infections and carrying out extensive testing. The country, which has a high life-expectancy rate, has reported only a dozen new cases since April 24 and is now in the process of easing restrictions.