There are about 200 or more countries and territories in the world, and of this number, 181  contries have reported at least one case of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, according to the count being kept by the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus resource center. The pandemic, which emerged in late December in Wuhan, China, has spread across the world at an alarming rate — topping 1 million cases as of April 2. The sad reality is that this virus is nearly everywhere.

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has spread to all corners of the globe, we know that there are some places on Earth remaining unaffected. It is based on countries that have not reported any known COVID-19 cases and that remained absent from the extensive global tracking, which is also being carried out by the Johns Hopkins University.

So, what countries in the World are there no Coronavirus cases?

The bulk of the states that have not yet reported cases are small Pacific Island nations, followed by a handful of countries in Asia and Africa. They include;

North Korea

North Korea hasn’t reported any cases. The already isolated state took preventative steps early, sealing its border with China in January, denying all foreign travelers from entering, but North Korea watchers are skeptical of the state’s no-case claim. A lack of testing capacity, a situation arguably worsened by international sanctions; a weak healthcare system; and a high degree of state secrecy are all reasons for reasonable skepticism. Whether North Korea just can’t tell if it has cases or is blatantly lying are both reasonable options.

North Korean flag

There are certainly question marks regarding the true situation in some countries, particularly North Korea, with sources in South Korea claiming COVID-19 has indeed spread there via the Chinese border. However, due to the secretive nature of the government in Pyongyang and the degree of state control over the media, it is impossible to tell whether the South Korean claims are true. However, it is also not unreasonable to think that in this instance, North Korea’s isolation from the rest of the world is helping it largely avoid the pandemic.

Turkmenistan flag

Turkmenistan, another secretive country which is notorious for censorship, has also reported zero instances of COVID-19. Turkmenistan is on par with North Korea in terms of state secrecy and isolation, but much more distant from the source of the virus, China.

Tajiskistan flag

Elsewhere in Asia, there are similar reasons for skepticism. Tajikistan also claims to have not confirmed any cases, and that may very well be true.

Lesotho and Comoros
Lesotho National Flag

These two African countries- are still officially free of the coronavirus. In recent days, both South Sudan and Sierra Leone reported their first cases, some of the most recent African countries to do so.

National flag of the Union of the Comoros
The Pacific Island states

The Pacific Island states appear to have been largely spared so far, but regional governments have not been complacent. In late January, the Federated States of Micronesia declared a public health emergency and on March 14 enacted strict border control measures, including banning travelers from countries with COVID-19 cases and prohibiting citizens from traveling abroad to countries with recorded cases (with an exception carved out for Guam and Hawaii).

A map representation of The Pacific Island States

On March 31, President David W. Panuelo put out a press release reflecting on two months of emergency. In it, Panuelo encouraged citizens to “Wash your hands; avoid large social gatherings; and, above all, maintain your Micronesian sense of empathy and compassion for your fellows.” He went on to urge Micronesians abroad to “heed the advice of your host Governments and their medical professionals as if their commentary were from the Bible itself.”

The Solomon Islands

The largest of the Oceanic states to not have a confirmed COVID-19 case is the Solomon Islands. With a population just over 600,000, the country’s government has not sat idle. On March 25, a state of public emergency was declared and Honiara has been sending samples to Australia for testing (so far 10 tests have come back negative, with three more suspected cases pending confirmation). At present, only Papua New Guinea and Fiji have domestic testing capabilities.

Flag of the Solomon Island

Besides the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Kiribati, Micronesia, Tonga, the Marshall Islands Palau, Tuvalu, and Nauru have no reported cases of COVID-19, though many have restricted travel and taken other steps to prevent the arrival or spread of the virus.

Elsewhere in The Diplomat’s coverage area, it’s less easy to believe governments denying cases and taking few steps to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

With all of these, what should we make of the countries that have not reported cases? Are they unable to test? Are they lying? Are they that isolated? What do you really think is going on?

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