India is still grappling with the COVID-19 second wave. And nearly half of the country is on a lockdown, struggling to contain the pandemic. Deaths have escalated. But then perhaps India can take inspiration from a few nations that have successfully come out of the pandemic with stringent protocols and masking. Here are six nations where people no longer need to wear masks or sanitize after every handshake.
It’s perhaps the first country which declared itself Covid-free. The government has also removed compulsory masking. Nearly 70% of Israelis are vaccinated and walk without masks. It also helped that they strictly maintained lockdown (three) and followed all the protocols stringently. Even when they eased lockdown restrictions, the people judiciously chose to stay indoors. Israel is a small country; its population is only a fraction of Mumbai. They largely managed to control Covid through extensive vaccination. They successfully managed to vaccinate more than half of the population which helped in controlling the spread. The government proactively stepped in and made sure everyone got vaccinated and it explains why they could obtain two doses of vaccines. With the majority of the population having received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and about 92% of those 50 and older inoculated or recovered, Israel has been gradually reopening its economy after three lockdowns. Israel will still keep its borders closed to most incoming travel, though it has started to let in small groups of vaccinated tourists.
This tourist paradise is inching towards a Covid-free space. More than 90% of the senior citizens have been vaccinated two weeks after the vaccines were out in the market. The vast majority of Bhutan’s first doses were administered at about 1,200 vaccination centres over a week-long period in late March and early April. That rate was ahead of those of the United Kingdom and the United States, more than seven times that of neighbouring India and nearly six times the global average. Though Bhutan shares its border with India and China, strict protocols ensured that the spread was contained. In fact, Bhutan didn’t even go for a lockdown. They were one of the early countries to start a vaccination drive in the world. Bhutan is also ahead of several other geographically isolated countries with small populations, including Iceland and the Maldives. Bhutan has recorded only 934 cases and reported just one death, aided by two carefully managed lockdowns. It has kept its borders closed for over a year now, with a few exceptions, and anyone who wishes to enter the country has to first go into mandatory quarantine for 21 days.
At certain places in America, they have lifted the mandatory use of masks. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention mandate those who have had two doses of vaccine needn’t wear masks while driving or stepping out for a walk or while travelling. Even during the small gatherings they needn’t wear masks. But those who haven’t been vaccinated are required to wear masks. On May 26th United States President Joe Biden had tweeted that 50 percent of American adults are fully vaccinated. This is considered as a major milestone in the country’s vaccination efforts. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were first given emergency authorization in December about a month before former President Trump left office. Early in the vaccination effort, certain groups of adults, such as health care workers and elderly people, were prioritized for vaccines. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was granted emergency authorization in February.
New Zealand efficiently dealt with the coronavirus crisis. And they have registered only 26 deaths so far. It’s the government’s well-organized handling that helped in containing the spread and has made it a mask-free country today. Recently around 5000 people attended a musical festival in Oakland without masks and that’s a clear indication of how successfully they have managed to contain Covid. There are several lessons other countries can borrow from New Zealand’s pandemic response. Rapid, science-based risk assessment linked to early, decisive government action was critical. Implementing interventions at various levels (border-control measures, community-transmission control measures, and case-based control measures) was effective. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided empathic leadership and effectively communicated key messages to the public - framing combating the pandemic as the work of a unified “team of 5 million” — which resulted in high public confidence and adherence to a group of relatively heavy pandemic-control measures.
Coronavirus was first unleashed in China. Ever since extensive vaccination, China has opened its doors to tourists. Theme parks, restaurants and Restaurants are now open to the public. In late January 2020, the Chinese government decided to lock down this city of 11 million people. All transportation to and from the city was stopped. Officials further locked down several other cities in Hubei Province, eventually quarantining over 50 million people. By the beginning of April, the Chinese government limited the spread of the virus to the point where they felt comfortable opening up Wuhan once again. Knowing that there were no safe or proven treatments or effective vaccine, China relied on proven non-pharmaceutical interventions to conquer the epidemic. First and foremost was containing the virus through controlling the sources of infection and blocking transmission. This was accomplished through early detection (testing), isolation, treatment and tracing the close contacts of an infected individual.
North Korea is one of only two non-island nations to make this list, although it's reporting of zero cases of the novel coronavirus has been questioned. North Korea shares a border with China and South Korea, which some believe would make the reporting of zero cases improbable. North Korea, the largest nation to report zero cases, with a population of 25 million, has instituted a strict lockdown, travel restrictions, and closed its borders.
And some of the countries with no recorded coronavirus cases are Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga.