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A Handful of Countries Are Still COVID-19-Free

But some claims are more suspicious than others
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2020 12:59 PM CDT

(Newser) – Most of the world's countries and territories have reported coronavirus cases—and 166 of them have reported deaths—but a few dozen locations are still virus-free, or claim to be. According to Reuters, all but 33 of the 247 countries and territories recognized by the United Nations have reported COVID-19 cases as of last week, though the list of 33 includes three secretive and authoritarian countries in Asia. North Korea's claim not to have had a single case is widely considered about as believable as Kim Jong Il's claim to have shot 11 holes in one on his first-ever round of golf, while authorities in Turkmenistan have reportedly been arresting people for even talking about the virus.

In Tajikistan, which also claims to have had no coronavirus cases, there has been a steep rise in reports of fatal pneumonia cases; some people are not being allowed to see the bodies of deceased relatives, Radio Free Europe reports. Apart from Lesotho in southern Africa, the other countries and territories with no reported cases are islands, most of them small, isolated ones in the Pacific. Only eight of the 29 countries and territories in Oceania have reported cases. Others, including Nauru, Niue, and Palau, have declared national emergencies and banned visitors. "Their best bet without a doubt is to keep the bloody thing out," Colin Tukuitonga, a doctor from Niue living in New Zealand, tells the BBC . "Because if it gets in then you’re stuffed, really." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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