In Ethiopia, A Monk Said to Be 114 Years Old Survives Coronavirus

Centenarian Aba Tilahun Woldemichael at his house in Addis Ababa on Saturday, June 27, 2020. The Ethiopian monk believed to be 114 years old has survived the coronavirus and was discharged from a hospital on Thursday, having received oxygen and dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid that researchers in England have said reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Associated Press

Updated: June 27, 2020

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian Orthodox monk whose family says he is 114 years old has survived the coronavirus.

Tilahun Woldemichael was discharged from a hospital on Thursday after almost three weeks. He received oxygen and dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid that researchers in England have said reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients.

Ethiopia’s health minister has said the ministry recommends the emergency use of the drug for COVID-19 patients who require ventilation or oxygen.

Tilahun’s grandson Biniam Leulseged said he has no birth certificate to prove the monk’s age, but he showed a photo of him celebrating his 100th birthday.

“He was looking young back then, too,” Biniam told The Associated Press on Saturday.

He said he was emotional when his grandfather was taken to the hospital but “I am very happy because we are together again.”

Ethiopia has more than 5,200 confirmed cases of the virus.


Coronavirus in Ethiopia: ‘Incredible Recovery of Man Aged Over 100′ (BBC)


Aba Tilahun Woldemichael’s family says he is 114, which would make him the world’s oldest man, but there is no birth certificate to confirm his age. (Photo: HANA ATSBEHA)

BBC

Updated: June 26th, 2020

The recovery from coronavirus of an Ethiopian man who is believed to be at least 100 years old was “incredible”, one of the doctors who treated him told the BBC.

Aba Tilahun Woldemichael’s family says he is 114, which would make him the world’s oldest man, but there is no birth certificate to confirm his age.

The centenarian is now being looked after at home by his grandson.

Aba Tilahun tested positive for the virus when a random screening process took place in his neighbourhood in the capital, Addis Ababa, and was admitted to hospital before the symptoms showed, Dr Hiluf Abate told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

This allowed the medical team to be pro-active with its treatment and closely monitor the old man, he added.

Within four days of his admission to the severe coronavirus ward in Yeka Kotebe hospital, Aba Tilahun’s condition deteriorated as the virus took hold and he was put on oxygen, Dr Hiluf said.

In all he spent 14 days at the hospital, and was treated with oxygen for more than a week.

Ethiopia, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, has recorded more than 5,000 confirmed cases and 81 deaths.

Tumultuous times

Although Yeka Kotebe cannot confirm that its patient is 114 years old, the medical team says that he is definitely older than 100 and has estimated that he is 109.

In his youth, he moved to Addis Ababa from southern Ethiopia when he was young and has lived through tumultuous times in his country.

He witnessed the Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the collapse of the Marxist Derg regime in 1991 and now he has survived Covid-19.

For years he has lived a simple life as a monk with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. “Aba” is a title meaning “Father”.

But when he was younger he worked as an electrician, house painter and general handyman, his 24-year-old grandson Binyam Lulseged Tilahun told the BBC.


BINYAM LULSEGED TILAHUN, Aba Tilahun’s grandson, seen here with his grandfather several years ago, is now looking after him at home.

His grandfather was doing well and looked healthy despite his age, however the after-effects of the virus had weakened his voice, Mr Binyam added.

In order to curb the spread of coronavirus, Ethiopia introduced a state of emergency in April that closed schools and playgrounds, banned large gatherings and sporting events, and reduced passenger numbers on public transport. But businesses have remained open.

Related:

Ethiopia Coronavirus Cases Reach 5,689

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