Corona Negative: How Have These Countries Dodged The COVID-19 Bullet?
A handful of countries are holding out against the virus that has spread like wildfire throughout the globe. We explore the possible reasons
Even as the coronavirus has brought around 200 countries to a near-total halt, there is a handful that remains untouched by the spread of the pandemic. Schools are open, markets are crowded and offices are functioning just like in normal times in countries such as the central Asian republics of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and around 15 others. In fact, Turkmenistan held a massive bicycle rally to mark World Health Day on Tuesday 7 April. At a time when the total number of COVID-19 cases is nearing 1.5 million and deaths stand at 80,000, a few countries, spread over different continents, are reporting that they are virus-free. At least so far.
Besides the Central Asian twins, African countries of Lesotho and Comoros and some island countries in the Pacific such as Nauru, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, and Tuvalu have reported zero COVID-19 cases.
How is it that the coronavirus not touched these countries? The answer could lie in the number of people visiting these countries. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), these are, in fact, the world's least-visited countries.
According to the data released by UNWTO last year, even a country like Turkmenistan, which is twice the size of Uttar Pradesh, in terms of land area, received only 9000 foreign visitors in 2017. Smaller countries like Tuvalu and Kiribati had tourists arrivals of just 2000 and 6000 respectively in 2017 On the other hand, countries such as Spain and Italy, which have suffered the most due to coronavirus receive anywhere between 60-90 million tourists per year.
Some other countries that have reported no coronavirus cases include North Korea, Samo, Sao Tome and Principe and Yemen. Most of these countries also took precautions as soon as the coronavirus outbreak became serious. For instance, Nauru and other island countries suspended flights and took precautions such as quarantining of suspected people. Isolation and precaution seemed to have paid off for these nation-states—and therein lies a lesson for the world.