Which countries have beaten COVID-19?

Countries beat Covid-19 - New Zealand
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

When it comes to dealing with the global coronavirus pandemic, some countries are handling things better than others. To date, there are about 16 countries that have zero—or nearly zero—COVID-19 cases, according to the website EndCoronavirus. These are the countries that have beaten COVID-19—at least so far.

Describing itself as a “volunteer coalition of over 4,000 scientists, community organizers, business owners, and individuals,” EndCoronavirus collates a massive amount of coronavirus data and classifies countries and regions according to how well they are handling the pandemic. “Green countries” are those that are considered to have successfully contained, or are close to containing, the virus. This is evidenced by a maintained rate of zero or near-zero new coronavirus cases per day. As early September, 16 countries have been marked as frontrunners in the race to beat COVID-19 completely. 

Topping the list is the Holy See, a country under the jurisdiction of the pope of the Catholic Church, which has seen 125 consecutive days of zero COVID-19 cases. Following the Holy See is Saint Kitts and Nevis, in the West Indies, and Kosovo, in Southeast Europe, with 60 and 14 straight days disease-free, respectively.

Timor-Leste, Cambodia, and Brunei make up the rest of the top six countries included in the green-zone but have seen one new case each in the last 14 days. Monaco, Thailand, and Fiji have recently experienced spikes in their number of cases, but compared to other countries, they’re still within the green-zone range at about two to three cases per nation. Liechtenstein, Djibouti, Niger, San Marino, and Taiwan have had fewer than 10 new cases each in the last 14 days. Mongolia, Mauritius, and Barbados, the final three countries marked as green zones, have had less than 20 new cases each in the past two weeks. They are among the countries on track to beat COVID-19 completely.

Considering Mongolia shares a border with China, where the virus originated, its response to the virus has been impressive.

According to EndCoronavirus’s criteria, green-zone rankings are based on the absolute number of cases in a specific region, rather than per capita cases. As explained in the site’s FAQ, “When it comes to eliminating the virus, the number of new cases per day must be zero. The fraction of the population that is infected is not what matters. If a country has 100 new cases per day, that provides many routes for the virus to spread. It does not matter whether the population is 1,000,000 or 10,000,000.”

New Zealand, previously lauded for having no locally acquired cases of COVID-19 since May, was hit by a sudden coronavirus resurgence last month. It has suffered 54 new cases in the last 14 days, causing the country to be bumped down to “yellow country” status. This means it can still be expected to return to zero cases within a reasonable period of time. 

Despite this, New Zealand can still be considered a country beating the virus based on a low rate of new cases per day, averaged over the last week. On Sept. 21, New Zealand ended all pandemic restrictions for areas outside of Auckland, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “Our actions collectively have managed to get the virus under control.”

Other countries with cases on a downward trajectory—but not necessarily topping the green-zone ranking—include Andorra, Bhutan, Cyprus, Dominica, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Malaysia, Mali, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

In contrast, the U.S. is zoned as a “red country.” Red countries are nations with increasing coronavirus numbers, steady infection numbers, or numbers that are diminishing at a slow rate. The U.S. had 539,446 new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days.

What are the 10 countries most affected by COVID-19, and how are they doing?

The U.S. is among the countries most affected by the virus, as of Sept. 9. Data is based on a country having more than 1 million inhabitants and its reported number of deaths per 100,000 people.

Even though the U.S. has reported more than 6 million cases and over 180,000 deaths so far, its five day moving average is actually on the decline. This illustrates a hope for flattening the curve. Other countries that are most affected but still show signs of flattening the curve include Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, and Peru. India and Iran—which have over 4 million and 300,000 total cases and more than 70,000 and 20,000 deaths, respectively—are headed in the opposite direction, with new case numbers apparently on the rise.

How long will it take countries to beat COVID-19?

EndCoronavirus has many resources and strategies advising what can be done to reach zero new coronavirus cases, but most are things we already know: strict lockdown protocols, strict travel restrictions, massive testing, and masks. “Things will get worse before they get better, but we can win by anticipating it and going all out,” the site reads. “Once we do, we can stop it in 5 weeks.”

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: EndCoronavirus, Nature, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

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