One of Australia’s oldest COVID-19 survivors today celebrates her 100th birthday, albeit in lockdown.
Carmen Machuca was the first resident to become infected in the May/June virus outbreak at Maidstone’s Arcare Aged Care home.
The second was her close friend in the next room, Jesus Guisande, aged 90.
The two had lived together since arriving in Australia in the 1960s, along with Mrs Machuca’s late husband, Joseph.
Mrs Machuca and Mr Guisande moved from Sydenham into the home together.
Both had received their first Pfizer jab before falling ill and both have made a full recovery.
Mrs Machuca was born in the Philippines and is of Spanish background.
She has one daughter, Victoria; three grandchildren, Nicole, Sam and Bryce; and two great-grandchildren Alexander and Leonardo.
Nicole Gualtiera said her grandmother was only recently discharged from The Northern Hospital after weeks of treatment.
“It was so random because she was one of the only residents that got it,“ Ms Gualtiera said.
“So, they just took her into the hospital and she was there for quite a while, up until a couple of weeks ago.
“It did take her a long time to fight the virus.
“Her body is quite old and she does have a lot of problems … it probably took her a lot longer than most.
“The hospital was really good to her.
“She was able to fight through it.
“We’ve got a photo of her when she was released from the hospital and she looked really happy.
“She actually looked better than before COVID.“
Ms Gualtiera said the hardest thing for her grandmother during the lockdowns had been not seeing loved ones.
“The hardest thing about COVID is not being able to see her family and friends,“ she said.
“We couldn’t have her birthday party but will postpone and have one as soon as we can.“