"I didn't think there was any way she would recover from it," remarked one of her grandchildren

By Maria Pasquini
April 05, 2020 11:30 AM
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A 99-year-old woman in the U.K. is believed to have recovered after previously being diagnosed with COVID-19 last month — and her family has offered up an unusual explanation as to why her health has improved.

Rita Reynolds, who is thought to be the oldest person in Britain to recover from the virus, became ill on March 25, according to The Guardian.

“I was certain that was it for her. She’s 99 so obviously she’s frail – I didn’t think there was any way she would recover from it. But she seems to have done it,” said Henry Phillips, one of Reynolds’ grandchildren, according to the outlet.

“I don’t know how she got through it. I don’t think she has ever eaten a vegetable or fruit. She lives on marmalade sandwiches and biscuits,” he joked, before going on to note that his grandmother, who is set to turn 100 in July, “never smoked or really drank.”

As of April 4, there have been over 42,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United Kingdom and 4,320 people have died due to COVID-19, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. At least 215 people have recovered from the virus.

While people over 60 and with underlying conditions are more vulnerable to severe complications and death, a number of elderly patients who have been infected with the virus have recovered.

Italica Grondona, a 102-year-old woman from Italy, earned the nickname “Highlander – the immortal” after she overcame the virus following nearly three weeks of hospitalization, CNN previously reported.

“Italica represents a hope for all the elderly facing this pandemic,” Dr. Vera Sicbaldi, who treated the centenarian, told the outlet, noting that she only experienced mild symptoms.

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Although a great-grandmother from Washington nearly died after contracting the coronavirus in March, 90-year-old Geneva Wood shocked her family and health care professionals when she suddenly began to recover.

“Who are we to question the fighting spirit of a tough ol’ Texas coot!” her daughter Cami Neidigh told Seattle Refined. “If anyone’s going to give the middle finger to a killer virus, it’s her.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.