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MADRID – The smiling elderly couple who waved from their window as they returned home after beating coronavirus summed up a cautious feeling of hope in Spain where the death rate has appeared to slow down in recent days.
José Prieto Cerrudo and his wife Guadalupe Matas Hernández, both 88, were discharged from the hospital this week after surviving an illness that has killed more than 4,000 pensioners in Spain.
The couple, who have been married for 65 years, were in a hospital in which staff allowed them to stay in the same room after they said they were missing each other.
“They didn't know what it was like to be separated,” Rosi Prieto, one of the couple's seven daughters, told local media.
“My father, more than anything, missed my mother. My father is very affectionate, he needs to be with my mother.”
Prieto Cerrudo was taken into the Red Cross Hospital in Madrid on March 14 after suffering from a fever and a cough. His wife was also admitted to the hospital shortly afterward. Both tested positive for COVID-19.
Jesús Lacasa, a doctor at the hospital, allowed the couple to move into the same room as they both suffered from fevers and coughs but were not seriously ill.
“When they were in different rooms, one was thinking of the other all the time as is their partner. They are a married couple who have spent their whole lives together, they know when the other one is bad and they are not worried about themselves, just the other,” Lacasa said.
For weeks, as the news in Spain was dominated by the rising death toll, the family feared the worse.
However, on March 30, doctors had some good news: their parents had been given the all-clear and could come home.
“We didn't think things were going to go well, especially for my father who was not feeling well,” Rosi Prieto told El País newspaper. “But you can (beat this), clearly you can. The majority can.”
Javier Goméz Pavón, head of geriatric care at the Red Cross Hospital, said elderly people who overcome coronavirus are physically stronger than before.
“If it is a person who returns to their family or with their partner where nothing has changed, they will return with more strength,” he said.
“This is a strong generation who have overcome the Spanish civil war, the hunger, the misery and the death of brothers.”
He said seven other elderly patients had been discharged from the same hospital.
Among them was Adoracíon González García, 96, a widow and mother of three children.
She is an anomaly in a country where 27 percent of people aged over 90 have died after contracting coronavirus.
The daily coronavirus death toll in Spain shot up by 743 on Tuesday after falling for four straight days, bringing the total to 13,798, the health ministry reported.
The slight rise was largely due to the fact that many deaths and new infections which occur over the weekend are only now being recorded, said María José Sierra, the deputy head of Spain's emergency unit.
“In reality, the downward trend is what we continue to observe in the reports we have received in recent days,” she said.