No country on Earth has escaped the effects of coronavirus. But one year on from the virus beginning to take hold globally, its impact on a national level is far from equal.
While some countries have seen aggressive infection rates and deaths measured in tens or hundreds of thousands, others have been able to stop the virus in its tracks through public health measures combined with factors such as low population densities or fortuitous geography.
When travel resumes, a priority for many will be the coronavirus risk level of any potential destination. Those countries that have proven adept at controlling outbreaks and forcing down the infection rate will surely benefit.
BE AWARE: The figures referenced below include both confirmed and probable cases identified by public health officials February 1, 2021 and are obviously subject to rapid change.
With that in mind, here are just some of the countries currently beating coronavirus.
New Zealand | no outside plants, pets, or people
Total cases: 2,304
Total deaths: 25
New Zealand shut its borders in mid-March 2020 and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has stated that she will not open them again until New Zealanders are “vaccinated and protected”.
The strategy – as well as the country’s isolated geography – have proved particularly successful with life returning to a semblance of normality in recent months. In fact, rates of transmission were so low at the beginning of this year that Kiwis were able to flock to outdoor music festivals – with no requirements to socially-distance or wear masks.
Thailand | positive test = hospital stay
Total cases: 19,618
Total deaths: 77
Thailand had the unenviable claim of reporting the first case of coronavirus outside of China when a woman hailing from Wuhan was diagnosed with the disease in January 2020. Unsurprisingly, many thought that the virus would sweep the country quickly and aggressively. But a year on, that doesn’t seem to have been the case.
Experts have attributed Thailand’s success to a near-universal adoption of face masks as well as a policy of hospitalisation for anyone testing positive, even those asymptomatic.
Iceland | not a hub
Total cases: 6,002
Total deaths: 29
After successfully containing the first and second waves of coronavirus, Iceland is currently reporting only small numbers of new cases. Although bars and clubs are closed nationwide, gatherings of up to 20 people are permitted – reflecting the low incidences of infection compared to neighbours with a much higher population density.
Singapore | early and always: apps and masks
Total cases: 59,536
Total deaths: 29
The Southeast Asian city state was quick off the mark to implement tech tools – including being the first country in the world to release a Covid-19 contact tracing app – but has also benefited from its relatively small size.
A pre-existing culture of mask wearing – like other Asian countries on this list – made the mandating of face coverings much easier to enforce.
Vietnam | good old-fashioned state-control
Total cases: 1,817
Total deaths: 35
Vietnam’s proximity to China as well as the high population density of its big cities compelled many to predict the country would be ravaged by the spread of the virus.
But this has not happened. An aggressive contact-tracing policy was put into operation quickly and efficiently while those infected were hospitalised, their homes and neighbourhoods put under lockdown and sanitised by the army.