Although the British Bob Weighton (111) is worried about the new coronavirus, the oldest man in the world can put all the fuss into perspective. After all, he also witnessed the outbreak of the Spanish flu in 1918. It claimed between 20 and 100 million lives worldwide. The coronavirus, which has already killed nearly 4,000 people, is still far away.
Weighton – who was born in 1908 and still lives independently in his flat – is said to have been a lot more careful with his hygiene since the coronavirus appeared in the UK. He washes his hands more often and uses a special brush for his nails.
“I’m pretty worried,” he tells the British newspaper Daily Mirror. “Everyone should do that. Not because of myself, because I have lived long enough. Well, for my three children, ten grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren. (His wife died in 1997, ed.)”
The coronavirus outbreak nevertheless does not come close to something Weighton experienced more than 100 years ago. He was seven years old when the Spanish flu fiercely spread around him and killed between 20 and 100 million people. The virus traveled with soldiers who had fought in the First World War and returned home.
“I remember the stories that circulated about people who got sick and died,” he says. “Just like newspaper articles. Fortunately, I never got the Spanish flu.”
Although the coronavirus did not make a fool of the number of casualties at the time, Weighton finds the rising mortality rate “frightening”. “Especially in China then,” he nuances. “In Europe, we are still far from the millions of victims at the time. Hopefully, it will never come to that. But you never know where it ends. You can only be careful.”
Weighton has never been seriously ill in his life. “30 years ago, the doctors discovered a lump on my stomach that could have caused serious problems,” he says. “I then had to undergo surgery, during which half of my stomach was removed.”
The Briton received the title of the oldest man in the world two weeks ago after the Japanese Chitetsu Watanabe died at the age of 112.