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116 year old Delft grandfather recalls Spanish flu pandemic

Published May 12, 2020

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CAPE TOWN -

Freddie Blom from Delft, one of world's oldest men, celebrated his 116th birthday, 100 years since the Spanish flu pandemic killed his sister.

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The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 was caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus which lasted for more than 12 months.

It infected a third of the world's population, an estimated 500 million people globally and killed an estimated 20 to 50 million people.

Blom was 14-years-old at the time his sister died and he recalls having to sleep outside on a haystack to avoid getting the disease.

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As with the Covid-19 global outbreak, there were no effective vaccines at the time and people wore masks. Businesses and schools were closed as the death toll rose.

"I have lived this long because of God's grace," said Blom.

“Nobody has a recipe for life, you just discover yourself still being alive, it comes from God.

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I don’t exercise, I just walk around the house and eat anything I like from bread, coffee, sugar and meat,” he said.

Blom spent the majority of his life working on farms and as a gardener. He met his wife Jeanette at a dance and has been married for almost 50 years.

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