International Travel

The countries with no coronavirus cases and how they did it

The countries with no coronavirus cases and how they did it

Cambodia’s last coronavirus patient was discharged from a hospital in Phnom Penh over the weekend, meaning the country now officially has zero active patients with the disease.

The Southeast Asian country has reported a total of 122 coronavirus cases but has officially recorded no deaths from the virus.

Cambodia is one of the very few countries around the world who are coronavirus free – most of them in the Pacific Islands – but senior lecturer at Griffith University, Lee Morgenbesser who studies Cambodia, is sceptical about the government’s figures.

“The government there has a documented history of lying and deception over a very long period of time,” he told SBS News.

“They have passed laws that make it a jailable offence to disprove the government when it comes to COVID-19. You aren’t going to get people coming out and saying the government is lying,” he added.

He revealed the due to government restrictions on free press and opposition parties that were put in place recently, there was no alternative source of information coming out of the country to challenge the government’s narrative.

“There is a long history of lying to outside audiences and to other organisations. There are no checks and balances anymore, so there is no one to come out and challenge the lies,” he said.

He also noted the county had done an “insufficient” number of tests given the size of its population and cautioned against declaring the country COVID-free.

According to the health ministry in Cambodia, 14,684 tests had been conducted since January among the country’s 16 million people. In Australia, with a population of 25 million, over one million tests have been conducted.

But disputing those claims is Associate Professor Peter Annear from Melbourne University, saying the stats coming out of Cambodia were just as believable as any other country’s.

He says the country likely owes its success to the fast and dramatic measures put in place by the government early in the pandemic.

"They shut down the borders to international tourists early, even though it is a large part of the economy. They also cancelled new year celebrations and limited travel between provinces," he said. 

He also noted that 80 per cent of its population lived in rural areas so it was a lot less dense than many of the urban countries that had experienced major outbreaks.

Other places with zero cases include Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mauru, Palau, Samoa, Soloman Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.