Of the almost 200 countries across the world, just 15 have no reported cases of COVID-19 as of Friday.
Many of the countries that appear to have escaped the deadly coronavirus pandemic are small islands in the South Pacific, which are geographically hard to reach.
However, some bigger countries, such as North Korea and Turkmenistan, also have no reported cases.
“It’s highly unlikely that a country such as North Korea – that borders with China – has zero cases of coronavirus,” specialist in Infectious Diseases at the Australian National University, Associate Professor Sanjaya Senanayake, told Yahoo News Australia.
“Of course, we can only speculate, but it’s likely they are either not reporting the cases they have, or don’t have the means to test for the virus.”
Professor Senanayake said it is possible for some of the smaller, more remote countries in the Pacific to have dodged the virus.
“While their geographical isolation has protected them up until now, their weak healthcare systems and low incomes could make them extremely vulnerable if they are affected. They need to keep testing to ensure they stay safe,” he said.
The 15 countries that have no reported cases of coronavirus:
North Korea claims no coronavirus cases
North Korea has reported no cases of COVID-19 despite its population of 25.5 million.
The already isolated state closed its border with China in January, and refused entry to all foreign visitors.
However, many are skeptical of the country’s claim, due to their high levels of state secrecy, weak healthcare system and lack of capacity for testing.
Turkmenistan and Tajikistan still holding huge events
These central Asian countries claim to have had no coronavirus cases despite not practising strict social distancing.
While other countries have required their residents to stay home, Turkmenistan held a mass cycling rally during the first week of April, and Tajikistan’s national soccer league is still playing.
Turkmenistan’s health statistics are notoriously unreliable; for the past 10 years they have claimed to have nobody living with HIV/Aids.
However, they did close nearly all of their land border crossings in early March, cancelled flights to China at the beginning of February and diverted all international flights from the capital to the city of Turkmenabat in the north-east, where they created a quarantine zone.
In Tajikistan, there have been several mysterious deaths that the government claims were caused by pneumonia.
The Solomon Islands send tests to Australia
With a population of 600,000, the Solomon Islands are the largest of the Oceanic states not to have a confirmed coronavirus case.
Their government has been proactive in putting preventative measures in place.
A state of public emergency was declared on March 25, and they have been sending samples to Australia for testing, with all so far coming back negative.
As of April 16, there are two more people awaiting test results and four people in quarantine.
Tonga and Vanuatu’s cyclone recovery slowed by coronavirus
There are still no cases in either of these countries after they implemented strict shutdowns on air and water travel from ‘high risk’ countries back in March.
There are fears this is becoming harder to control as concern about the infection is slowing down recovery efforts in the areas affected by Cyclone Harold.
Humanitarian supplies are being delivered from overseas, but are being quarantined before they can be handed out. Many of Tonga’s roads, wharves and food supplies have been damaged.
The Vanuatuan government has said no foreign personnel will be allowed to enter the country to assist with the relief efforts.
Samoa and Palau see negative test results
Samoa shut down air travel from overseas countries early on, which may have stopped the virus from spreading.
They have sent 12 samples to New Zealand for testing, which have all come back negative.
It’s believed the prime minister’s intention to keep the borders closed was triggered by the recent measles epidemic, which killed more than 80 children.
Palau also remains virus-free, with one suspected test returned as negative.
Tuvalu and Nauru immediately halt travel
It’s perhaps no coincidence that two of the least visited places on earth remain COVID-19 free.
Both tiny islands restricted travel to the area early on during the pandemic, and so far neither have reported any cases.
Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia restrict borders
These small countries all announced immigration restrictions and restrictions from China in very early stages of the virus, which so far appear to have paid off.
Lesotho and Comoros are surrounded by coronavirus
The only two countries in Africa to still have no recorded cases, there’s doubt over whether that means the virus doesn’t exist there.
Lesotho is a landlocked country, surrounded by South Africa, which currently has over 1700 cases.
It’s suspected a lack of testing is the reason there have been no reported cases.
Comoros may have got off the hook, as it’s a small island in the Indian Ocean, with very few visitors.
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