We are in month 15 of this global pandemic and the picture is mixed, to say the least. As nations like the US and UK cry freedom following a successful vaccination drive, other countries – including South Africa – are facing the prospect of a devastating third wave. However, there are some places that have managed to shut COVID-19 out completely.
No pandemic, no problem for Zero-COVID nations
We’ll be honest, these nations have been aided by geography – but in all four cases, a strong government response prevented the pandemic reaching their shores at any point. What’s more, this cohort is starting to vaccinate its citizens – meaning that the deadly threat of this virus could well be bypassed altogether at some point this year.
There is a clutch of nations that came close – and Kiribati would have been added to the list, had two fishermen not tested positive for the illness last week. Micronesia has reported just one positive case so far, whereas Samoa and Vanuatu had just seven positive cases (and one death) between them, leaving us with only four ‘zero heroes’:
What countries have had ZERO cases of COVID-19?
Of all the Pacific Islands that managed to avoid COVID-19 – based on both their remote locations and small stature – Tonga is perhaps the greatest success story. This is the largest country on Earth that has avoided the pandemic altogether, with over 100 000 people living here. In fact, their quick response put many other countries to shame:
- – A COVID-19 taskforce was set up in February 2020 – before a single case had been reported in the Pacific.
- – The nation locked down early and kept COVID-19 cases out, before any serious problems could emerge.
- – Tonga now has more than 25% of its population vaccinated – as it looks to its new life in a post-pandemic world.
Palau is a nation of about 18 000 people that lies over 1 000km east of The Philippines. It is one of the few countries to never have recorded a COVID-19 case, but they had an almighty scare recently: A travel bubble with Taiwan had to be closed, as the Far-Eastern nation encountered a spike in coronavirus infections. Alas, Palau’s case rate didn’t flinch.
The island nation has been designated as a ‘COVID-free zone’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the last week. Their tourist-based economy has taken a battering, however, and The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has helped bankroll Tuvalu’s vaccine programme. Later this year, the government hopes to welcome international travellers again.
Tuvalu is one of the few countries in the world to remain #COVID19-free, thanks to the leadership of the Government and strong border controls.
Tuvalu is also a great example of how #COVID19 preparedness can be used to strengthen the health system.
— Dr Takeshi Kasai (@takeshi_kasai) May 19, 2021
If you know a thing or two about obscure travel destinations, you’ll know Nauru has the highest obesity rates per capita in the world. However, the tiny island nation is now embracing good health practices – as shown by its vaccine uptake.
A government release says 7 392 people, or 108% of the adult population, have received the first dose. How is that possible? Well, the number of adults vaccinated is HIGHER than the number of all adults registered in the country’s last survey. Attention will now turn to administering second doses – ensuring that Naura remains completely COVID-free.