Capri, Italy. Photo: Andy Holmes/Unplash
The old normal seems to be back in a few countries and islands. Several places across the globe are now claiming to be completely free of COVID-19. While some far-flung islands maintained the status from the very beginning of the pandemic thanks to a slew of strict measures, several other parts of the world are mass vaccinating their population to achieve herd immunity. Here’s a list of all the places that are free of the virus:
Last week, the Governor of Italy’s Campania area announced that Capri, an island in the Gulf of Naples, is close to concluding its vaccination programme, making the island “COVID-free”. The island, known for its azure blue waters and elegant villas, is set to welcome “millions of tourists”, according to CNN.
Nearby Ischia in the Gulf of Naples is also COVID-free. The island has been holding “open days” to mass vaccinate the population above the age of 18. Known for its Aragonese Castle and thermal spas, Ischia hopes to welcome tourists this summer.
The smallest island in the Bay of Naples, Procida became Italy’s first fully vaccinated island after 90% of its 10,000 inhabitants received their shots. It has since earned a COVID-free status.
North Korea’s latest report to the World Health Organization claims that the country is free of COVID. The country has been maintaining a perfect record since last year, citing the immediate shutting of borders and banning of tourists as the reason for their success. However, several experts doubt the claims due to its “poor healthcare infrastructure”.
Located in the south-western Pacific region in Oceania, Tonga houses over 170 islands. As per the government health authorities, these islands are COVID-free. Tonga has managed to keep cases on the low since last year, and has also been actively inoculating its citizens.
An archipelago of over 500 islands home to 18,000 people, Palau is another Pacific island that has managed to keep the virus at bay by shutting off from the world right when the news of the pandemic was announced. The remote island has inoculated about 97% of its population.
As of 23 April, the South Pacific island in Oceania is COVID-free. As per the latest update by the US Embassy in Tuvalu, most commercial flights to and from the island remain suspended, with only a few repatriation flights being functional.
Kiribati, a small island nation in the South Pacific region, was quick to close its borders to tourists and has remained COVID-free since last year. The island is inhabited by 1,10,000 people.
Nauru, an island in Micronesia that is now COVID-free, completed its four-day vaccination campaign recently. It has vaccinated almost its entire adult population with the first dose. It aims to completely vaccinate its entire population by July.
Barring the exception of a few cases since the beginning of the pandemic, the Polynesian island of Samoa has maintained a virus-free status till now. With mass vaccinations and regular contact tracing in the region, Samoa also plans to open a travel bubble with New Zealand and Australia soon. But as of now, the government isn’t taking any chances and has restricted flights, sea traffic and operating hours for shops. The Samoan government has also announced that all people arriving on the island from July 1 must be fully vaccinated.
Corvo Island, Portugal
Corvo, the smallest island of the Azores archipelago is the first 100% vaccinated island, as it inoculated its entire population of 430 inhabitants. The island is said to have reported only one COVID-19 case as of March.
Countries that are almost COVID-free
The country closed its borders to non-citizens and non-residents in March 2020. The border closure, swift contact tracing and high compliance of restrictions by people have made Australia one of the most successful countries in keeping the numbers low. The country currently has 126 active cases. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also announced that the country is in no hurry to open its borders. Last month, Australia entered into a quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand.
New Zealand is also among the few countries that have managed to successfully curb the spread of cases. In June last year itself, New Zealand lifted all its restrictions since there were no active cases. The country’s cases currently are as low as 19. After opening a travel bubble with Australia last month, it is entering into a second bubble with the Cook Islands, which is yet to report a single case, according to an AP report.