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World War II hero, 98, is ‘oldest Briton to survive coronavirus’

Jimmy Nsubuga
·3-min read
Jack Bowden with his son Mark (R) and when he worked as a pharmacist during WW2 (Picture: SWNS)
Jack Bowden as a pharmacist during WW2, and with his son Mark. (SWNS)

A 98-year-old World War II veteran is thought to be the oldest person to have survived COVID-19 in the UK.

Jack Bowden was discharged from hospital three days after testing positive for the disease, which has claimed at least 422 lives in the UK.

The former pharmacist – who worked on production of penicillin during the Second World War – tested positive on 18 March after initially becoming ill with a water infection.

The great-grandfather made a quick recovery and was discharged on Saturday to return to the care home in Bolton where he lives.

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Jack Bowden working during the Second World War (Picture: SWNS)
Jack Bowden working during the Second World War. (SWNS)

Jack’s youngest son Mark, 58, said he wrote a goodbye letter when doctors told him his father had tested positive for the disease.

He said: "I thought I'd never see him again. I wrote him a lovely letter and within an hour he rang me and said: 'I think I've got the real thing.'

"But by Friday, the nurses said he's doing amazing and just had a mild chest infection."

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Medics at the Royal Bolton Hospital decided former Royal Navy petty officer Jack was better off isolating in his care home rather than on the ward, which posed a risk of infection.

Mark said he had been due to visit his father in his care home 16 March but was told by staff that his father had been taken ill during the night.

Jack Bowden was based in Clevedon, Somerset, where he worked on production of Penicillin (Picture: SWNS)
Jack Bowden was based in Clevedon, Somerset, during WWII, where he worked on production of penicillin. (SWNS)
A graph showing the rise in the number of countries with coronavirus (Picture: PA)
A graph showing the rise in the number of countries with coronavirus. (PA)

Doctors became concerned when Jack became confused and disorientated, but he was treated for a suspected water infection and began to improve.

Medics at the hospital then tested him for coronavirus and the results came back positive on Wednesday.

Mark said: "The water infection itself kills most people his age, but they were preparing to discharge him for that until the COVID-19 test came back positive.

"He got a nurse to call me to say he wanted his mobile phone, so I knew he was feeling better.

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"They discharged him on Friday night, but he could only leave on Saturday morning once the care home had put measures in place to cope with his return.

"We don't think he's fully out of the woods yet as he still has a chest infection and it has left him with a cough.

"But he is sat up in his chair, he's comfortable and he is well on the way to recovery. I'm pretty sure he has passed the infectious stage.

"The consultant even wants to use him as a case study."