97-Year-Old Woman in South Korea Fully Recovers From Coronavirus, Becomes Country's Oldest Surviving Patient

A 97-year-old South Korean woman has fully recovered from the coronavirus, becoming the oldest person in the country to survive the infection.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday that officials said the elderly woman had left quarantine and returned home after making a full recovery from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Although the woman's identity was not revealed, she is from the southeastern city of Cheongdo, which is near to Daegu, the epicenter of the Asian nation's outbreak.

Despite South Korea's proximity to China and an early surge in confirmed cases of the virus, the country has done an impressive job in curbing the spread of the pandemic. Although South Korea discovered its first case the same day as the U.S., the Asian nation mobilized quickly to expand testing and isolate the infected.

South Korea coronavirus
People wearing face masks walk through an alleyway in Seoul, South Korea, on March 24. ED JONES/AFP/Getty

Now, two months later, South Korea reported just 104 new cases of the virus on Thursday, bringing the total number to 9,241, according to the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the past two weeks, the number of new cases has hovered around 100 or even lower. Only 132 people have died from the virus in South Korea thus far.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exploded in the U.S., with nearly 70,000 confirmed cases. More than 1,000 people have died from COVID-19, while 619 have recovered. Health experts have criticized the federal government's response to the crisis, noting that the U.S. was slow to roll out testing and did not take adequate steps to track and isolate those infected.

Although older people are more at risk of facing serious complications and death from COVID-19, there have been numerous reports of very elderly individuals making full recoveries. Even a centenarian in China, as well as one in Iran, have made full recoveries, according to local media reports.

Last week, Iranian media reported that a 103-year-old woman had made a full recovery after being hospitalized with the virus in the central city of Semnan. A 91-year-old in the Persian Gulf nation had previously recovered from the virus in the city of Kerman.

Earlier in March, Chinese media reported that a 100-year-old man had recovered from COVID-19 and was discharged from a hospital in Wuhan after being treated for 13 days. He had just celebrated his 100th birthday in February, right before contracting the virus.

Globally, there are now more than 463,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. More than 117,000 of those people have already recovered, while just over 22,000 have died. The largest number of confirmed cases is still in China, where the virus was first arose.

But Italy and the U.S. are catching up fast and are expected to surpass the Asian nation in confirmed cases in the near future. The World Health Organization warned earlier this week that the U.S. is becoming the new global epicenter for the outbreak.