The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the entire world, with as many as 23 million cases reported globally and at least 8,00,000 deaths, according to the data from the John Hopkins University.
Yet, as the race for the vaccine gets closer, there are a few countries that might not have a need for it in the first place due to their elite status of being a COVID-free nation. So which are the ten nations that are 100% COVID-19 free?
Palau, an island country located in the western Pacific Ocean, has been one of the very few countries with no confirmed cases of COVID-19. The country, surrounded by the sky-blue Pacific Ocean, took a timely decision when it closed its borders in late March.
While citizens in the region have continued to lead normal social-distancing-free lives, unaffected by the pandemic, the nation’s economy, however, has taken a massive hit.
According to figures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), tourism makes up for 40 percent of the country’s GDP. In 2019, the country was visited by over 90,000 tourists, five times its total population, which stands at 18,106.
A year on, the country remains a ghost town, with closed restaurants, souvenir shops shut, and only hotel guests being residents returning in quarantine. Although, with President Thomas Remengesau Jr. announcing the resumption of air travel by September 01, and a rumored “air corridor” with Taiwan, which would allow tourists to visit the country, there could be some much-needed respite for the nation.
2. Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands is a sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls, which lies in the central Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and the Philippines. The country which has a population of 58,413, (as of 2018 World Bank census) has recorded zero COVID-19 cases.
Unlike Palau, the Marshall Islands rely less on tourism and more on their fishing industry. Much of their success with the handling of COVID-19 can be attributed to them undertaking strict measures which included banning the entry of boats from infected countries, enforcing other boats like fuel tankers and container ships to spend 14 days at sea before entry, cargo flights being cut and unsold fishing licenses.
However, these measures have massively hit the country which specializes in Aquarium fish. According to reports, exports of their famous Flame Angelfish and Sashimi Tuna fell by 50 percent, with other fishing industries expecting a fall of 30 percent.
Vanuatu, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, is another country that made use of its strictly closed border policy to control the spread of the pandemic within its boundaries. As a result, the country is expected to experience a slump, with its GDP expected to face a drop of 10 percent, their biggest fall since their independence in 1980.
However, according to Dr. Len Tarivonda, Director of public health, Vanuatu, the majority of the people want the borders to be closed for as long as possible, as they feel they can sustain on their own. “Some 80% of people in Vanuatu live outside towns and the “formal economy”,
And my observation is they don’t necessarily feel the pinch yet. They are subsistence farmers, they grow their own food – they depend on the local, traditional economy.” said Tarivonda.
4. Soloman Islands
Situated in the south-west Pacific Ocean, approximately 3,763 kilometers to the northwest of New Zealand, Soloman Islands has not allowed COVID-19 to reach its shores.
Moreover, UNICEF, which recently accepted US$347,000 from Japan, has been working closely with the government of the Solomon Islands to improve essential services to set up hand-washing stations and health centers.
Samoa, officially known as the Independent State of Samoa, is a Polynesian island country with a population of 198,604 people. The country has been COVID-free due to its government’s commendable work to prevent the virus from entering its borders.
Dr Leausa Take Naseri, Director General of Health, Samoa, has stressed how the government has refused to rest on its laurels and there have been discussions with regional governments on the possibility of having a common Covid-19 tracing app.
Tuvalu is an island country situated about midway between Hawaii and Australia and has stayed COVID-19 free due to the complete closure of flights and passenger vessels since March 21.
As a result, many residents have been waiting for a return to the country and now, the country’s COVID-19 Task Force has been devising a set of stringent measures to reduce the risk of the disease in the country with returning citizens.
Tonga, a Polynesian kingdom, is a group of more than 170 islands in the South Pacific region. The country has remained free of Corona, with teams from the local Red Cross Societies organizing drills to situation the same.
Moreover, a World Bank support of US$2.9 million has been provided to the country for its COVID-19 response to support its health sector preparedness and for the purchase of PPEs, ventilators, and other equipment.
Kiribati is a set of islands, lying in the central Pacific Ocean, and is one of the poorest countries in the world with a population of just 119,451 people.
It is one of the very few countries without a single case, with its health system expecting a support sum of US$2.5 million from the World Bank, in order to build capacity for essential service delivery.
Turkmenistan, also known as Turkmenia, is a country in Central Asia. Despite being bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, countries which have reported COVID-19 infections, the country has remained free of the disease due to its swift decision to lose all land borders and the cancellation of all flights to and from China in early February.
Nauru is a tiny island country, northeast of Australia, measuring just 8 square miles. It has remained free of the deadly disease with the help of its stringent measures but has continued to prepare its health facilities in case of a potential outbreak.