Countries With the Fewest COVID-19 Casualties Per Capita
It’s been more than nine months since COVID-19 has made its presence known to the world, and from the start of the year to this day, there have been hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 casualties and close to 40 million recorded cases in total around the world. With that in mind, we take a look at the top five countries in the world with the fewest COVID-19 deaths per capita (not counting countries that have no recorded COVID-related deaths as of this writing) as well as the measures they’ve taken to achieve such results.
All numbers and figures were taken from Worldometer as of 16 October 2020.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world where close to 75% of Burundians live below the poverty line. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the late president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, refused to impose any restrictions on the country apart from a 14-day quarantining of anyone entering the country from affected countries, with sporting events and political rallies being allowed to take place ahead of the country’s elections on 20 May 2020. One person who tested positive for the virus died on 12 April, making that person the first and only known COVID-19 casualty in Burundi thus far. On 8 June, Pierre Nkurunziza had reportedly died suddenly of a heart attack, but many believe his death was caused by COVID-19. His successor, Évariste Ndayishimiye, declared COVID-19 “the worst enemy of Burundi” while swearing in new cabinet ministers, issuing stronger guidelines such as mandating the use of masks and conducting mass screenings as well as reducing the price of water and soap. From increased testing, the total number of cases in Burundi have come up to more than 500, which is still relatively small for a country of close to 12 million. Perhaps the most significant factor in their low numbers is due to the lack of international tourism.
Despite its relatively close proximity to Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, Taiwan has only seen about 530 total cases, over 98% of them recovered, and only seven deaths to date among its population of close to 24 million. Taiwan received reports of an unidentified outbreak on 31 December 2019. They then inspected all passengers of inbound flights from Wuhan, China before disembarking. On 21 January, they recommended the avoidance of all non-essential travels to Wuhan. On 26 January, all air travel to and from China was suspended, and passengers from China were placed under quarantine. They postponed the opening of primary and secondary schools from 11 February to 25 February. On 20 March, all Taiwanese were advised to avoid non-essential travel. On 31 March, passengers of trains and buses as well as persons at highway rest stops were required to wear face masks. Thanks to the early efforts of the government as well as the cooperative nature of their anti-COVID campaign, Taiwan was able to avoid a lockdown that would have had a huge negative impact on its economy.
As early as March, Vietnam closed its borders to all except for returning citizens. They had confirmed the first two cases of COVID-19 in their country as early as 23 January 2020, while the number of cases increased rapidly due to a large number of people coming from European countries. From 22 March, all entry for foreigners have been suspended, and Vietnamese citizens entering the country have to go through 14 days of concentrated isolation. A nationwide 15-day isolation was implemented on 1 April. Local airlines were allowed to gradually increase their domestic flights by stages on 16 April, 23 April and 29 April. Social isolation was lifted by the Vietnamese government by 23 April, which also saw the reopening of restaurants and schools on the same day. Cinemas were allowed to be reopened on 9 May, and a nationwide tourism campaign called “Vietnamese travel Vietnam” was started by the Vietnamese government on 11 May. Vietnam saw no locally-transmitted instances of COVID-19 from 22 April until late July, and was heralded as a major success at the time. However, dozens of community infections were confirmed in late July, and social distancing has been reimplemented by officials. To date, Vietnam saw a total of 35 COVID-19 casualties, which compared to its population of over 97 million makes it one of the top three countries in the world with the fewest COVID-19 deaths per capita.
Sri Lanka has a population of over 21 million. In spite of a recent sudden spike of over 1,000 newly detected infections at a factory in Sri Lanka, they have remained one of the stable countries when it comes to COVID-19 deaths, with only 13 recorded so far. In terms of total infections as of this writing, they have recorded 5,244 cases, with over 3 thousand recoveries. In January, the Ministry of Health for Sri Lanka ordered that passengers at the Bandaranaike International Airport should be screened for symptoms by the Quarantine Unit. An emergency curfew was imposed in several towns across Sri Lanka by Sri Lanka Police on 18 March when around 800 returnees from Italy visited those towns. This was followed by a nationwide lockdown which started on 20 March at 6 pm and was supposed to end on 23 March, but the curfews had to be extended several times due to the discovery of new cases. This went on until 31 May, where towns will have curfews imposed and lifted on a case-by-case basis.
Thailand, a country of close to 70 million in population, has a total of 3,669 cases and 59 deaths to date. Thailand has declared a state of emergency on 26 March and imposed a curfew that has been in effect since 3 April until 15 June, as well as a suspension of all commercial international flights the following day. As a result, local daily transmission rates had fallen to near-zero by the middle of May, and restrictions have since been gradually been eased. Cooperation by the public has been credited as one of the main contributing factors of the slowdown in daily infections.
How is Malaysia Doing?
With all that said, let’s talk about how Malaysia is faring. So far, we’ve had 170 COVID-19 casualties and 18,129 total cases as of this writing. This places us at 46th place both in terms of fewest COVID-19 casualties per capita and 54th place in terms of fewest total COVID-19 cases per capita out of over 200 countries. This means that we are doing significantly better compared to about 75% of the world. This is thanks to the efforts of Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Noor Hisham, who has served as the Director-General of Health of Malaysia since 2013, as well as the cooperation of the public. With the recent clusters, we should as Malaysians be all the more diligent in adhering to the guidelines set out to help us get through this pandemic together. After all, we were doing so well in the last few months. We can do this!
So there you have it: these are the top five countries with the fewest COVID-19 casualties per capita, as well as the measures they have taken to ensure these low numbers. What measures do you think could have been implemented here, and what measures may not be possible in Malaysia? Let us know what you think in the comments down below!
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