Coronavirus in Ethiopia: ‘Incredible recovery of man aged over 100’

The recovery from coronavirus of an Ethiopian man who is believed to be at least 100 years old was “incredible”, one of the doctors who treated him told the BBC.

Aba Tilahun Woldemichael’s family says he is 114, which would make him the world’s oldest man, but there is no birth certificate to confirm his age.

People over the age of 80 are considered to be among the most vulnerable if they catch the virus.

The centenarian, who is an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian monk, is now being looked after at home by his grandson.

“When I was in the hospital I was praying to God asking for my health. I was crying and praying for the whole country to be healthy again,” he told the BBC.

Aba Tilahun tested positive for the virus when a random screening process took place in his neighbourhood in the capital, Addis Ababa, and was admitted to hospital before the symptoms showed, Dr Hiluf Abate told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

This allowed the medical team to be pro-active with its treatment and closely monitor the old man, he added.

Dr Hanif

Hiluf Abate
It’s really incredible that he survived being so old and we are happy that he has been discharged”
Dr Hiluf Abate
Yeka Kotebe hospital
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Within four days of his admission to the severe coronavirus ward in Yeka Kotebe hospital, Aba Tilahun’s condition deteriorated as the virus took hold and he was put on oxygen, Dr Hiluf said.

In all he spent 14 days at the hospital, and was treated with oxygen for more than a week.

He also was given anti-biotics and the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone, which has been hailed as a ground-breaking treatment for hospital patients seriously ill with Covid-19.

Ethiopia, which has strict coronavirus restrictions, has recorded more than 5,000 confirmed cases and 81 deaths.

Tumultuous times

Although the hospital cannot confirm that its patient is 114 years old, the medical team says that he is definitely older than 100 and estimates that he is 109.

In his youth, he moved to Addis Ababa from southern Ethiopia when he was young and has lived through tumultuous times in his country.

He witnessed the Italian occupation between 1935 and 1941, the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, the collapse of the Marxist Derg regime in 1991 and now he has survived Covid-19.Presentational grey line

For years he has lived a simple life as a monk; “Aba” is a title meaning “Father”.

But when he was younger he worked as an electrician, house painter and general handyman, his 24-year-old grandson Binyam Lulseged Tilahun told the BBC.

Grandson with Aba TilahunImage copyrightBINYAM LULSEGED TILAHUN
Image captionAba Tilahun’s grandson, seen here with his grandfather several years ago, is now looking after him at home

His grandfather was doing well and looked healthy despite his age, however the after-effects of the virus had weakened his voice, Mr Binyam added.

In order to curb the spread of coronavirus, Ethiopia introduced a state of emergency in April that closed schools and playgrounds, banned large gatherings and sporting events, and reduced passenger numbers on public transport. But businesses have remained open.



  1. I wish they leave this elderly man alone with such cracked up age claim. This is not the first story we heard from crack heads. It was the discovery of traditional medicine that will heal from COVID-19. What an embarrassment that was!!! Now this? What is next we gonna hear from similar story tellers? We have landed our men on Mars two months ago? We have a story of a conniver who tried to raise a man from a dead. Someone had sent me a funny video clip where one conniving preacher kicking demons out of his recruited individuals who are supposedly possessed by such spirits. Paawwww! The demons are kicked out leaving the possessed knocked out flat on the floor. What else we gonna hear from there? Wait a minute! There was another one. I have a live one for you. How about that story we were told about 15 or 20 years ago where a pride of hungry lionesses were guarding a young girl from other predators until her parents and neighbors came to take her home. I still couldn’t understand why the journalist who reported that real life Tarzan story was not awarded the coveted Pulitzer Prize.


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