It's being dubbed as a miracle.
A 93-year-old man and and his 88-year-old wife from Pathanamthitta district in Kerala have recovered after contracting the deadly coronavirus disease.
Mr Thomas Abraham and Mariyamma were released from hospital on Wednesday after days of life-and-death battle against Covid-19, which they contracted from their son, daughter-in-law and grandson, who returned from Italy last month.
The secret behind their recovery seems to be the healthy lifestyle they have been leading, said their grandson, Rijo Moncy.
He told the Press Trust of India that Mr Thomas, a farmer in Ranni, is healthy, a teetotaller and non-smoker. Even without going to the gym, he had a six-pack body.
Mr Thomas loves "pazhankanji", Kerala's own rice gruel consisting of tapioca and jackfruit pieces. That's what he insisted on eating while confined in the isolation ward of the Kottayam Medical College Hospital.
The couple have three children, seven grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.
Besides his parents and grandparents, Mr Rijo's sister and brother-in-law and his father's elder brother were among those infected by the virus in the family.
Mr Rijo and his parents faced the ire of Kerala's Health Department and public censure after it became clear that they had skipped the screening at the Kochi airport upon their arrival from Italy and not informed the authorities of their foreign travel.
They had not practised social distancing either, attending functions and making trips to several places, including post offices, banks and police stations.
Over 900 people, who had primary or secondary contact with the family during the period, were put in quarantine by the Health Department.
Five members of the family as well as the aged couple developed symptoms associated with the coronavirus and visited the General Hospital in Pathanamthitta on March 6. Two days later, they tested positive and, a day later, the couple, whose cases were more serious than the others', were moved to the Kottayam Medical College Hospital.
"It's a miracle that my grandparents survived. The doctors and the health officials put in their best efforts to save them," said Mr Rijo, who works in the radiology field in Italy.
"They had age-related complications. But the nurses and the doctors at Kottayam Medical College considered them their own family and took care of them.
"We are really thankful to the state government, health minister and the chief minister for the care we got."
Along with the seven-member team of doctors who led the treatment, 40 medical staff, including 25 nurses, actively took part in various stages of the couple's treatment.
"The elderly couple were literally brought back to life from death," said Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja. "At one stage, the couple were in a very critical situation. They were brought back from the abyss of death because of the excellent care and treatment at the medical college hospital."
Kerala has 265 positive cases, the most in India. Three in the state have died due to the coronavirus.
Covid-19 is known to be especially deadly for elderly people. The Kerala couple's recovery has made headlines across India and overseas and hailed by medical professionals, especially since the man had hypertension and diabetes - underlying conditions which have proved to be fatal in so many cases across the world.
The man's condition, doctors told the BBC, deteriorated briefly and he had to be put on a ventilator for 24 hours, before he staged a remarkable recovery.
Dr R.P. Renjin, who was part of the team that treated the couple at the Kottayam Medical College Hospital, said they were quite difficult and irritable when they were admitted to the hospital three weeks ago.
Their main grouse was that they were separated from each other in the Intensive Care Unit. But the staff finally found two rooms in the hospital which were separated by a glass partition so they could see each other.
"They were happy once we put them there," Dr Renjin said.
Some experts described their recovery as "very rare", while others attributed it to Kerala's good patient care system.
"It is one of the rarest of rare cases in the light of reported high mortality in the higher age groups, especially in the age bracket of above 70 years. It is nothing short of a miracle," said Dr Neeraj Gupta, professor in the Department of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi.
"It is giving a ray of hope to the healthcare workers and the elderly fighting against this dreaded disease that recovery is always possible."
Dr Gupta, also part of the team which is treating Covid-19 patients admitted to Safdarjung Hospital, told the Economic Times that the couple's immune system was able to sustain the fight to such an extent that they were able to recover and "this gives us hope".
A large number of older people, aged above 60, have died in China, Italy, the United States and Spain, the countries which have been hit hardest by the virus.
Till Thursday morning, India had recorded 1,998 positive cases of coronavirus and at least 58 deaths.
Globally, the virus has infected more than 937,000 people and claimed around 47,300 lives.
Dr Arvind Kumar, lung surgeon at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, attributed the Kerala couple's recovery to the "excellent healthcare they received in Kerala". He told the Economic Times: "The survival rate increases if the healthcare system is good and not burdened. In Italy, too, the morality rate of people above 80 is only about 14 per cent. So, the healthcare system makes all the difference."
Indo-Asian News Service