Woman Who 'Died' of COVID Turns Up Alive and Well 9 Days Later

An 85-year-old woman believed to have died from the coronavirus surprised staff and relatives by returning to her care home nine days after they were told she had been buried, a Spanish newspaper reported on Sunday.

Following an identification mix-up, Rogelia Blanco's family were told that the pensioner died of COVID-19 on January 13. Her funeral was held the next day but, due to coronavirus protocols, the family was unable to attend.

However, the following Saturday, Blanco arrived fit and healthy back to the care home in Xove, northern Spain, where she lived.

Holding Old Hands Elderly Pensioner Family Support
Inter-generational hand-holding. The family of Ms Blanco were amazed to discover the 85-year-old was alive and well nine days after they thought she had been buried, when she returned to her care home from a different site being used as a COVID treatment center. yaom/Getty

Her husband, Ramón Blanco, also a resident, explained to La Voz de Galicia newspaper his overwhelming relief at seeing her.

"I could not believe it. I was crying, after the death of my wife," he was quoted as saying.

It was in fact a patient sharing Blanco's room who had died. According to the San Rosendo Foundation, which runs the facility, the error occurred when 11 residents were transferred on December 29 to the Os Gozos residency in Pereiro de Aguiar, 139 miles from Xove.

The company was using the site as a treatment hub for patients suffering from COVID, with transport overseen by an ambulance service attached to the local Burela hospital.

"Among the elderly people transferred were two women who were assigned the same room," the foundation said. "An identification error during the process of transfer from Xove to Pereiro de Aguiar led to the death of one of them being certified on January 13, although the identity was wrongly assigned."

A funeral was held the next day, with the case of mistaken identity going unnoticed as coronavirus restrictions banned open-casket funerals, reducing the opportunity for anyone to rectify the mistake.

The foundation said it regretted the "unfortunate incident."

"This is a one-off event, among the more than 100 transfers that have been made since last December to Os Gozos," it added.

A court had been informed and will reverse the administrative mistake attached to the reporting of Blanco's death, the statement said. The foundation did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

The foundation also explained it had "reinforced" the practices used to monitor patients following the mishap, as well as informing both families involved of the mistake that had taken place.