MAIN PHOTO: Samoa is one of the few nations that has not reported any coronavirus cases. SOURCE: Simon Steinberger, Pixabay
Global COVID-19 cases have exceeded one million, global news outlets reported yesterday.
According to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at John Hopkins University, cases have been confirmed in more than 180 countries and territories, with the United States containing the most confirmed cases at 243,453 and Italy following with 115,242 confirmed cases. There have been over 50,000 confirmed global deaths due to COVID-19, according to the John Hopkins data.
Only 18 countries have not yet confirmed any cases of the virus: 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.
The majority of these countries are small Pacific island nations, including Kiribati and Nauru. One similarity is that none of the reportedly virus-free nations are tourist hotspots, with seven of the world’s ten least-visited places on the list.
Despite having no confirmed cases, these nations all took precautions to limit internal spread of the virus. Lesotho has been under lockdown since March 13, when it was the first African nation to close its borders. South Sudan, Samoa and Tonga have also been under lockdown since late March. Island nations like São Tomé and Príncipe, Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu have declared states of emergency and limited or suspended international travel.
However, some experts believe that the lack of confirmed cases in some of these countries may be because of lack of sufficient reporting. Reuters reported that North Korea has requested foreign aid and supplies like masks and test machines to help fight the virus, despite denying any cases. Various other sources have alleged varying numbers of cases and casualties in North Korea, but the country has not officially reported any COVID-19 cases.
Reportage of the extent of the virus is constrained in countries like Turkmenistan as well, where zero cases have been reported but the word “coronavirus” has been removed from official informational brochures, according to Reporters Without Borders.
According to coverage by the BBC, health experts like Peter MacPherson of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Andy Tatem of University of Southampton predict COVID-19 will eventually infect every country, but suggest that small Pacific island nations may hold out the longest due to their natural isolation.