Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Twenty-two countries in the world have not yet reported any case of COVID-19, even as the rest of the world is battling to contain the virus.
The countries that have reported no cases so far come mainly from two continents-Africa and Asia. In Africa, the unaffected countries include; South Sudan, Burundi, Botswana, Western Sahara, Sierre Leone, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Comoros, Malawi and Sao Tome ne Principe.
In Aisa; North Korea and other Middle East countries like Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Yemen have not yet declared any confirmed cases. The other countries with no cases are located in the South Pacific waters; Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
The disease was first reported last year in Wuhan city of China. Shortly after the outbreak was declared, cases of the disease were reported in South Korea, Malaysia and Iran.
In January 2020, cases of the disease were being confirmed in North America. The United States and Canada were the first countries to declare cases on the continent. As of today, according to World Health Organization, all countries in North America have confirmed cases with the United States having the highest number of confirmed cases globally at 104,837.
Europe confirmed its first cases in January, a few weeks after the outbreak was declared in China. France, Greece, Germany and Italy were some of the first countries to confirm cases. Just like North America, all countries in Europe have registered cases.
Through January 2020 and part of February, Africa was untouched by COVID 19. However, in mid-February, 2020, the first case was confirmed in Egypt. Shortly after cases were reported in Algeria, Morocco and South Africa. Today, over 2,000 cases have been confirmed, the majority of which are from South Africa.
While the number of cases in the world are on the rise and now standing at over 600,000 cases, it remains unclear how some countries without cases have managed to keep the disease out.
Countries like South Sudan, Burundi, Lesotho that are surrounded by cases have closed schools, stopped public gatherings and have banned all outbound and inbound flights. In addition to this, screening of travellers and mandatory quarantine measures have been set up in case travellers who entered the country present with symptoms. North Korea and other unaffected countries in Asia have also put up similar preventive measures.
While some of the measures that have been put up by these countries look extreme especially since they have no cases confirmed, the World Health Organization has praised them saying that it is better to be safe than sorry.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO director Africa says that it is better for countries to take such precautions even when they do not have any reported cases.
“We encourage strong measures to contain the disease. The earlier these measures are put in place before cases are registered the better to stop transmissions from taking place. It is a wise thing to do to put these measures in place earlier rather than later,” Dr Moeti said.
So far, the number of people who have recovered from the disease is higher than those who have succumbed to it. As of March 28, 2020, 131,826 had recovered while 27,862 have succumbed to the disease.