BRASILIA (Reuters) - World War Two veteran Ermando Piveta, aged 99, became the oldest Brazilian to recover from the coronavirus on Tuesday.
Wearing an army cap and saluting from his wheelchair, Piveta left the Armed Forces Hospital in Brasilia to an ovation from medical staff and a soldier's trumpet homage.
"Winning this battle was for me bigger than winning the war," he said of his fight against an invisible enemy. "In war you kill or live. Here you have to fight to live," he added.
Piveta was a second lieutenant in the Brazilian Army forces during World War Two and served in Africa.
He tested positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago and spent two days in the hospital's intensive care ward after he developed pneumonia.
But he never needed a ventilator and recovered due to his good physical shape derived from life in the military and longevity that runs in his family, the hospital's director said.
Piveta's release from hospital was a bright moment in an otherwise darkening scenario as the epidemic hit Brazil with force this week. The coronavirus has infected 25,262 people and killed 1,532 people, the health ministry said on Tuesday, with 204 deaths just in the last 24 hours.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)