07 Apr 2020

Coronavirus-free: what Nauru is doing to be one of last places to catch Covid-19?


Is there a coronavirus-free country? The answer is yes, surprisingly. There are 193 countries that are members of the United Nations. As of 2 April, 18 countries did not report a Covid-19 case, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The 18 countries without Covid-19 cases are: Comoros, Kiribati, Lesotho. Also consider Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Nauru. North Korea, Palau, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe did not report any cases as well. Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Yemen also make part of the countries witho no COVID-19 cases.

It is important to notice that experts agree that some of them are likely to have unreported cases. North Korea, for example, is officially on zero. Yemen did not report cases as well. However, there are countries where the virus did not land. Most of them are small islands with few visitors. That remoteness means one thing: in this age of social-distancing rules, island nations are the original self-isolators. 

Is there a coronavirus-free country? The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is yes. Get to know a little bit of Nauru! (Source: 4oito)

Get to know Nauru: a coronavirus-free country

Nauru, in the Pacific Ocean, is almost 200 miles (320km) from anywhere. Banaba Island, part of Kiribati, is the nearest land. It is the second-smallest UN state in terms of land (after Monaco). Besides, with just over 10,000 people, it is the second-smallest in terms of population (after Tuvalu). 

Nauru is also one of the least-visited places on Earth. Actually, the country receives about 160 tourists a year. You may think such a distant place would not need to distance itself further. But a country with one hospital, no ventilators, and a shortage of nurses cannot take any chances.  It is imperative that Nauru needs to continue as a coronavirus-free country.

On 2 March, Nauru banned travelers from China, South Korea, and Italy. Five days later,  they added Iran to the list. In mid-March, Nauru Airlines suspended flights to Fiji, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands. Besides, they reduced its other route – Brisbane –  from three times a week to once a fortnight. After that, all those arriving from Australia had to go thorugh (mainly returning residents)  a 14-day quarantine in local hotels.

Capture and containment


The policy is called “capture and containment”. They’re keeping things at the border using the airport as the border. Those in quarantine are checked for symptoms every day. When some of them developed fever, they were isolated further. Finally, they were tested for Covid-19. The kits were sent to Australia, but all came back negative.

Despite living through a crisis, ordinary Nauruans are calm and collected. They are grateful to other countries for their help. Particularly Australia and Taiwan, which Nauru has full relations with.

The very isolation of a small country across a big ocean became a protection to be coronavirus-free country. This was always a problem for them. The lockdowns – such as those in Nauru – may work. However, they cannot last forever. It’s great for health systems, but we are going to have to live with this virus for quite some time.