By Tracy Cabrera
COVID-19, or the coronavirus disease 2019, has reached 188 countries and
territories around the world, according to John Hopkins University’s tracker, and this has prompted many governments to impose lockdown measures,
fundamentally changing many citizens’ lives, in an effort to stall the pandemic’s spread. But some countries say they have yet to record a single coronavirus case. Actually, some have governments that are unlikely to admit if they have an outbreak while others are remote island nations where it is easier to be shielded from outsiders.
Here are 14 countries that say they’ve been free of the coronavirus.
- Cook Islands
An island country in the south Pacific Ocean, which comprises 15 islands, the Cook Islands is self-ruling and in free association with New Zealand. It has not recorded a single virus case. It closed its borders in mid-August after neighboring New Zealand saw a resurgence in cases. Prime Minister Henry Puna said: “We are taking very serious measures in order to protect our people and to control and keep this deadly disease away from our shores.” Earlier this week its former prime minister, Joseph WIlliams, was hospitalized with Covid-19, but he is in New Zealand.
An independent country in the central Pacific Ocean, the Republic of Kiribati, another Pacific Island nation, has no Covid-19 cases among its population of over 110,000. People coming from countries with ongoing local transmission of the virus have to spend “at least 14 days in a country free of the virus before traveling to Kiribati, and to provide a medical clearance to confirm that they are virus-free.”
- Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands, its official name, is an island country near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line Being part of Micronesia, which closed down its borders at the onset of the pandemic, this Pacific Ocean country of almost 60,000 people has not reported any cases until now.
A subregion of Oceania, it is composed of thousands of small islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has close shared cultural history with two other island regions, Polynesia to the east and Melanesia to the south, as well as as with the wider Austronesian peoples. The subregion has four main archipelagos: the Caroline Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Mariana Islands and the Marshall Islands — along with numerous outlying islands. The islands of Micronesia are politically divided into six sovereign nations: the the Caroline Islands, which are further divided between the Republic of Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, the latter often shortened to “FSM” or “Micronesia” and not to be confused with the overall region; the Gilbert Islands (along with the Phoenix Islands and Line Islands in Polynesia) comprise the Republic of Kiribati; the Mariana Islands are in union with the United States, divided between the U.S. Territory of Guam and the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; Nauru is a fully sovereign nation, coextensive with the island of the same name; and the Republic of the Marshall Islands is coextensive with that island group. Also noteworthy is Wake Island, which is claimed by both the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the United States, the latter having actual possession under immediate administration of the United States Air Force. This region on the Pacific Ocean has not recorded case since the beginning of the pandemic and has closed its borders while its Covid-19 task force has done simulations to see how ready it is for an outbreak. Citizens who have been repatriated are also required to undergo quarantine.
Formerly known as Pleasant Island, the Republic of Nauru is an island country and a microstate in Micronesia with a little more than 10,000 people. The microstate has recorded zero cases so far, but its government has expressed concern about the growing number of cases in the surrounding Oceania region, like in Australia and New Zealand.
- North Korea
Officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it is a country in East Asia consisting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has not reported any coronavirus cases, though its leader, Kim Jong Un, has repeatedly outlined the disease as a potential threat. The country, which already had little contact and travel with the rest of the world, closed its borders further in January and has taken steps on imposing quarantine protocols on a border town to prevent Covid-19 from entering the communist state. Experts, however, are skeptical about the country’s official statistics and statements, with some believing that it could have had cases in March or even earlier. Its weak health system may not have been able to confirm them, and the secretive nature of its ruling party means it may not admit if it is fighting an outbreak.
The Republic of Palau, as it is officially called, is an island country situated in the western Pacific Ocean with a population of about 18,000 people, has not reported any Covid-19 cases. Its health ministry has issued guidelines on how citizens can protect themselves. He said, “while we do not want people to panic, we need to be vigilant and cautious, and to practice current recommended preventive measures, including frequent hand washing, practicing respiratory etiquette, social distancing, and preparing as if we are going to get that first confirmed case.”
Located 2,400 km northeast of New Zealand in a triangle between, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. Commonly referred to as “The Rock” from its traditional name “The Rock of Polynesia,” Niue is one of the world’s largest coral islands and one of the world’s smallest countries, with a population of less than 2000 inhabitants. It has close links to New Zealand, and has also reported zero cases.
Officially the Independent State of Samoa, which, until 1997 was known as Western Samoa. It consists of two main islands, Savai’i and Upolu, two smaller inhabited islands and several small uninhabited islands in the Polynesian region. With a population of about 200,000, the state has recorded zero confirmed cases. It declared a state of emergency and closed its borders in March, including to boats and ships, saying it would stay closed “until further notice,” to keep the disease out of the country. People who are allowed in under special circumstances have to follow a series of regulations, health checks and quarantine rules to “keep Samoa Covid-19 free.”
- Solomon Islands
A sovereign state consisting of 6 major islands and over 900 smaller islands in Oceania, the Solomon Islands lie in the Papua New Guinea and northwest of Vanuatu. It announced entry restrictions early on in the global outbreak. It is now looking at how it can get tourists back without bringing the virus into its territory.
Officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, this sovereign state is comprised of 169 islands where 36 are inhabited. With a population of over 100,000, it is still free of Covid-19. Since March, Tonga has quarantined people, implemented curfew, banned large groups and contact sports, and urged social distancing in case the virus had entered the country. It also closed its borders to flights and cruise ships in March after a suspected case was reported but the alleged person infected was later declared negative of the disease.
Also known as Turkmenia, this country is situated in Central Asia bordered by Kazakhstan to the northwest, Uzbekistan to the north and east, Afghanistan to the southeast, Iran to the south and southwest, and the Caspian Sea to the west. Presently under a dictatorship, the country has not reported a single
coronavirus case, but experts say the claim of one of the most secretive and
repressive states in the world cannot be trusted. President Gurbanguly
Berdimuhamedow also makes health claims that they have zero people living with HIV/Aids, which experts say is not possible. However, the country restricted travel early in the global outbreak, and is one of the hardest countries to enter, which may have helped it avoid an outbreak.
Formerly known as Ellice Islands, this Polynesian island country of nearly 12,000 people is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and is situated about midway between Hawaii and Australia. It has tallied no coronavirus cases.
Finally, this South Pacific island nation west of Fiji has not recorded a single coronavirus case. It declared, however, a state of emergency in March that will last until the end of 2020. Its government is still in the containment stage of its plan, which means its goals are to “stop the virus from coming into Vanuatu” and “to isolate any person found in the country who have introduced the Covid-19 virus (to prevent them spreading it to others or to other areas of the island state).”