The entire world is reeling with the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called the coronavirus pandemic as the most challenging crisis to humankind since World War II.
At the time of writing this article, the total confirmed COVID-19 infection case globally was more than 1-million (1,123,024) and almost 60,000 deaths (59,140) as per Coronavirus Resource Center of Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Nearly all the countries in the world now have confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, there are a handful of countries that are still not affected by COVID-19 infection.
Are there any countries not affected by coronavirus?
The answer is yes.
We have compiled the countries that remain unaffected by COVID-19.
18 Countries Unaffected by COVID-19
Out of the total 193 countries globally, just 18 countries remain unaffected by COVID-19. They are:
- Marshall Islands
- North Korea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Solomon Islands
- South Sudan
Why are these Countries still Unaffected by COVID-19 Transmission?
Out of these 18 countries still unaffected by the deadly coronavirus, North Korea has zero official confirmed cases, and Yemen is war-torn.
However, the other countries on the list are all small islands, which are the least visited. In fact, this list includes seven countries that belong to the list of the ten least visited places in the world (as per UN data).
Remoteness has saved these islands from the person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. They are self-isolators. In this age of social distancing or physical distancing, these countries already fulfill this clause and therefore saved from any kind of person-to-person transmission of the deadly virus.
Most of the small island nations have declared national emergency, including Nauru, Vanuatu, Tonga, Kiribati, and others. However, the policies of self-isolation have been most successfully implemented by Nauru.
Nauru: What are the Exceptional Steps taken to protect itself from COVID-19 coronavirus?
One country that needs special mention in successfully isolating itself from COVID-19 infection is Nauru. It is located around 200 miles (321.87 km) away from the nearest land (which is Kiribati’s Banaba Island) in the Pacific Ocean.
The nearest major city to the country is Brisbane (the capital city of Queensland, Australia), which is located 2,500 miles (4,023.36 km) south-west of Nauru. The UN data says that the tourist inflow in this country is just 160 per year. Nauru is the second smallest in terms of both land and population.
Despite its almost insignificant size, population, and remoteness, its president is not complacent. The country has already recognized the lethality of the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently declared a national emergency.
This island nation has only one hospital; there is a shortage of nurses, and most importantly, there is the availability of no ventilator. So, they were in no position to take any chances. As described by Nauru’s President Lionel Aingimea, they have adopted a policy that he calls “capture and containment.” He says that they are “keeping things at the border.” They are considering their airport as the border and also the transit facilities a part of the border.
How did Nauru implement its policy to remain Unaffected by COVID-19?
To implement its policy, Nauru’s government undertook these steps:
Step 1: On March 2, Nauru banned all travelers from the worst affected countries of the pandemic, such as China, Italy, and South Korea. They also banned travelers from Iran 5-days later.
Step 2: In the middle of March, Nauru Airlines suspended all flights to other nearby destinations such as Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Fiji. They also brought down the frequency of flights to Brisbane (Australia) from thrice a week to once in a fortnight.
Step 3: They made it mandatory for all travelers from Australia to go into 14-day quarantine in local hotels. Nauru government also ordered a 2-weeks compulsory quarantine at Australia’s migrant processing center on Nauru.
Step 4: The health officials and personnel in Nauru check the quarantined persons for any symptom every day. If they find any symptoms such as fever, the health professionals isolate the person further and conduct tests for COVID-19. However, reports say that all the tests have been negative till now.
The President of Nauru Lionel Aingimea says that the ordinary Nauruans are keeping their calm despite a crisis. He also thanked other countries such as Australia and Taiwan, for help in this crisis and emergency.
How are the Landlocked Countries Keeping the COVID-19 Infection Count Low?
Some landlocked countries are consistently keeping the total number of coronavirus cases extremely low. One such country is Malawi (in East Africa), which has a population of 18 million people. It has till now only 1 case of coronavirus infection. Experts say that the confirmed cases of coronavirus infection are so low for a landlocked country like Malawi (having dense population), and it is because they prepared for it.
Malawi government has declared a “state of disaster” and consequently took the following steps:
- Closed all schools
- Canceled all visas, which were issued before March 20, 2020
- Ramped up COVID-19 testing
As the country has 30-years of experience in dealing with the HIV epidemic and TB pandemic, Malawi is used to these extraordinary measures. Also, the country has an effective public health program (mostly basic) at the district level, which is well provided.
That’s why the healthcare experts in the country believe that they will cope with the COVID-19 pandemic successfully.
In this globalized world, it is challenging to ward off any infectious disease. Though lockdowns have worked wonders in isolated countries such as Nauru, it can’t last forever. Most of the countries (including these 18 unaffected countries) import (goods, foods, tourism, etc.) heavily from outside their territories. So, they will also get adversely affected by the COVID-19 infection.
Therefore, the only way to deal with this extraordinary virus is through an excellent healthcare system because we have to live with COVID-19 or the coronavirus pandemic and many such deadly viruses for quite some time (especially when the global warming is freeing up dangerous viruses trapped in the melting icebergs of Antarctica).