Canada could see 22,580 to 31,850 COVID-19 cases by April 16 resulting in 500-700 deaths by April 16, Public Health Agency of Canada short-term modelling released April 9 indicates.
Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam called the numbers “stark.”
But, she added, modelling indicates Canada has a chance to control the epidemic.
“We cannot prevent every death, but we must prevent all the deaths we can,” she said.
Tam said the modelling attempts to show how the epidemic in Canada might unfold in coming months based on knowledge of how the virus behaves and potential impacts of public health measures.
“Models are not crystal balls and we cannot predict the future with them,” Tam said. “However, they do help us to plan and they tell us that our collective actions can have a direct and significant impact on the epidemic trajectory.”
The modelling examined how various forms of public health measures might impact infection spread. No controls could see infection rates of 70-80% infection rates, weaker controls a 25-50% rate and stronger controls a 1-10% rate.
So far, Canada has had 18,447 confirmed cases with 401 deaths – or a 2.2% fatality rate among confirmed cases. There have been 1,118 hospitalizations with 326 people moved to intensive care units.
Some 94% of cases are in four provinces: Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta while 98% of deaths are in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. At least 198 deaths have been among long-term care homes residents.
In, B.C., there were 45 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 between Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 1,336. But the total number of those who have recovered is now up to 838, meaning a significant number of people now have immunity.
There were five new deaths since Tuesday, bringing the total to 48. But hospital and intensive care numbers were down. There were 135 people in hospital, down from yesterday’s 138, and 61 patients in intensive care, down from Tuesday’s 66.
Agency data shows that, prior to stronger public health measures being instituted, each infected person in Canada infected 2.19 other people on average.
With a 2.5% infection rate, the country might see 11,000 deaths while at 5% that could correspondingly double.
The key to control, the agency said, is staying on the so-called epidemic control scenario.
“This means we are aiming for the lowest possible infection rate to minimize illness and death and to shorten the period of intense disease transmission in Canada,” the agency said.
“We recognize that even if we are successful, continued public health measures will be required over time to manage future waves.”
Those measures continue to include: physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, restrictions on international and domestic travel, case detection and isolation and quarantine of contacts and incoming travellers
Continued success in handling the situation includes equipping hospitals to provide care for more severe cases, increasing bed and clinic capacity for patients and expanding the health workforce.
“We all play a role in what the future will hold for Canada’s COVID-19 trajectory,” Tam said. “We must continue to control the epidemic using tried and true public health measures, including staying home when possible, maintaining physical distancing, meticulous handwashing and covering our coughs.
“What we do together now to stop the spread of COVID-19 will reduce the impact of the pandemic and determine how soon we can readjust our public health measures in Canada,” Tam said.