Italy's octogenarian former premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Monday he had cheated death once again as he left hospital after nearly two weeks of treatment for the novel coronavirus.
"I overcame what I consider perhaps the toughest challenge of my life," the 83-year-old said in a statement outside the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan.
"Anyway, I can proudly say that even this time, I got away with it," he added, thanking doctors and expressing solidarity for other victims of the virus and their relatives.
According to the ANSA news agency, the conservative politician and billionaire media mogul is expected to remain in isolation at home until he has achieved a complete recovery from the virus.
Berlusconi was hospitalized on September 4. Doctors diagnosed him with Covid-19-related double pneumonia and said his infection was particularly severe.
"The first three days were really hard," the ex-premier said in his speech, referring to Covid-19 as a "serious and really dangerous disease."
Sporting his trademark perma-tan and double-breasted dark suit and tie, Berlusconi urged everyone to respect health and safety rules, and put on a face mask after speaking to reporters.
Italy's ex-leader, once described by a doctor as "technically immortal," has suffered from health problems for some time, starting from a successful battle against prostate cancer in the late 1990s.
In 2016, he had an open-heart operation that kept him in hospital for almost a month, and last year he underwent surgery for an inguinal hernia and a bowel obstruction.
Berlusconi's release from hospital came in the final days of the campaign for September 20-21 regional and local elections, in which he has taken part remotely, phoning in at various party events.