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 30 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, 30 countries have been marked as frontrunners in the race to beat COVID-19 completely. 

The countries listed in the green zone include: Australia, Barbados, Bhutan, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Djibouti, Dominica, Fiji, Haiti, Holy See, Laos, Liechtenstein, Mali, Mauritius, Monaca, Mongolia, New Zealand, Niger, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Senegal, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

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 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, and as of Oct. 27, it was back in the green zone.

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.” As a result, New Zealand could partner with Australia to create a travel bubble.

In mid-October, Singapore reported no new daily cases for the first time since February. In late October, Melbourne, Australia ended its 112-day lockdown.

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

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. Meanwhile, rates in Europe are beginning to rise again, sparking concern across the globe. The rates in most U.S. states are increasing as well.

How is the U.S. doing?

The U.S. is among the countries most affected by the virus, as of Oct. 27. Data is based on a country having more than 1 million inhabitants and its reported number of deaths per 100,000 people.

The U.S. has reported more than 8.7 million cases and more than 225,000 deaths so far, and the news keeps getting worse as cases continue to rise, especially in rural areas in the country.

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 five weeks.”

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: EndCoronavirus, Nature, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine

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