Leonora Massima Noel, the oldest citizen in the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, passed away Friday at the age of 119 after she was hospitalized with COVID-19.
According to Loop Caribbean News, Noel died at the Princess Royal Hospital where she was receiving medical treatment after contracting COVID-19. She had been admitted to the hospital since September 13.
“She was well celebrated, well-known and well-loved. She was our gem, our national treasure,” Minister of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and Local Government Kindra Maturine-Stewart said about her passing.
The minister added it was regrettable her cause of death was COVID-related as Noel had occasionally recalled she survived several disasters in the past including Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Jane.
Responding to the news of Noel’s passing, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell expressed his condolences to her family and also stressed why it’s indispensable to put in measures to ensure the country’s senior citizens are protected from the virus.
“It is unfortunate that we are losing so many of our senior citizens to this dreaded disease. They are among the most vulnerable and we have to do our best to protect them from this virus. I pray that Sister Leonora finds eternal peace,” he said.
The deceased supercentenarian, who celebrated her 119th birthday in December last year, was born in Venezuela. She, however, moved to Carriacou at a young age, Face2Face Africa reported.
And though it was argued Noel was the oldest person alive, there are no official documents to back that claim as her date of birth is unknown. Up until her death, Noel was four years older than Charles Edward James, Jamaica’s oldest citizen who passed away in September.
Fondly known as “Maas Tata”, the supercentenarian never got to be officially recognized for his status as one of the world’s oldest living people after reaching the milestone. And that was because the documents proving his age could not be verified, local newspaper The Gleaner reported at the time.
Noel was also two years older than the late Violet Brown. Also a Jamaican, Brown briefly held the title for the oldest, officially verified living person in the world after the death of previous Italian holder, Emma Morano, in April 2017. Brown held the title for a period of five months until her death in Montego Bay the same year.