The deadly coronavirus outbreak that originated in China towards the end of last year and began creeping into other countries over the last couple of months has been continuing to wreak havoc around the world.
So far, over a million people have been infected by the deadly pandemic and more than 53,000 have died worldwide – with Italy, Spain, and the US reporting the most deaths due to the virus. Although these three countries have been the worst affected in terms of fatalities, cases of infection and deaths have been reported in almost all the 193 countries outside China which are members of the United Nations.
18 countries are still coronavirus-free
However, there are also some countries that seem to have miraculously managed to trick the virus from entering their borders, and remain free of COVID-19.
According to a new BBC tally published April 2, there are some 18 countries in the world which remain coronavirus-free. As most of us may have guessed, most of them are islands.
These countries are: Comoros; Kiribati; Lesotho; Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Nauru; North Korea; Palau; Samoa; Sao Tome and Principe; Solomon Islands; South Sudan; Tajikistan; Tonga; Turkmenistan; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; and Yemen.
Remote islands are always a safe haven
It comes as no surprise that most countries in the list are predominantly island paradises in the middle of the Pacific belonging to Oceania. This is because of the fact that not too many people live on these remote and uncharted islands, and they do not have as many tourists flocking them, unlike some of the more popular island destinations like Hawaii, Mauritius, and the Maldives, mainly because they are expensive to get to. This is what seems to have helped them remain free of COVID-19 infection.
There are a total of 12 islands on the list and all but two of them are located in the Pacific Ocean and are part of Oceania. Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu, are located in the Pacific and come under the continent of Oceania.
Comoros is an island located in the Indian Ocean and is a member of the Arab League, and Sao Tome and Principe is an island country located in the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean), off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa.
It is also likely that Tristan da Cunha, the world's remotest inhabited group of island, is also free from coronavirus, though the BBC did not have it on its list. Authorities in the British Overseas Territory have imposed a ban on any foreign visitor entering the country.
The other countries in the list, Lesotho, North Korea, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Yemen, are safe due to various other reasons.
The hermit kingdom of North Korea
North Korea has not reported even a single case of the virus since the coronavirus outbreak began in neighbouring China and Taiwan, and it is quite understandable. The "hermit kingdom" has institutionalized draconian quarantine measures against COVID-19, often calling it a matter of "national survival." The fact that North Korea has worked to make itself the most isolated nation on earth seems to have helped the nation keep coronavirus at bay, though some analysts remain sceptical of its assertion.
Coming to Yemen, the war-torn Arab nation, is among the poorest countries in the Gulf region. But COVID-19 has not reached Yemen yet. Given the current situation in the country and its healthcare and sanitation facilities, following years of destructive conflict, it will be a disaster if something like coronavirus hits the country.
South Sudan and Lesotho
Like Yemen, South Sudan is also a nation embroiled in conflict. Located in North Africa and formed after it gained independence from the Republic of Sudan in 2011, the nation is also not frequented by tourists, primarily because of the armed conflict. Due to the political conflict, compounded by economic woes and drought, South Sudan is among the poorest countries in Africa with over seven million people, or roughly about two-thirds of the country's population in need of and and around seven million people on the brink of starvation. A disease like COVID-19 would be devastating for the nation, but fortunately there have been no infections so far.
Another African landlocked nation Lesotho is also COVID-19 free due to it being very rarely visited by tourists.
The only two Asian countries that are free of COVID-19
In case of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, they are also relatively reserved countries, that are also among some of the least visited. The fact that their exposure to the outside world is very limited may have contributed to the absence of COVID-19 in the Central Asian countries.
All these countries exemplify the fact that the spread of coronavirus can be contained through social distancing and self-isolation, quite literally.