Canada projecting nearly 3,900 deaths from COVID-19 by early May as epidemic growth slows

Canada projecting nearly 3,900 deaths from COVID-19 by early May as epidemic growth slows
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Canadian health officials released the latest projections for the spread of COVID-19, predicting hundreds more will die before May 5.

Canadian health officials, including chief health officer Dr. Theresa Tam, released the latest national projections for the spread of COVID-19 on Tuesday and they predict hundreds more will die, despite showing progress on prevention.

The projections revealed Canada’s epidemic growth is slowing, with new cases doubling every 16 days, compared with a doubling every three days early in the pandemic.

At the same time, deaths as a result of the virus could be as high as 900 in the next week.

The newest data presented by the federal government shows that deaths could range between a best-case scenario of 3,277 to a worst-case scenario of 3,883 by May 5. The high fatality rate is as a result of the number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities, said health experts. To date, the government data shows deaths in senior and long-term care facilities are responsible for the 79 percent of COVID-19 deaths within Canada — particularly in Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

On the other hand, Dr. Tam said the current number of cases is levelling out in several provinces. She credits physical distancing measures meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus for cutting transmission rates in half over the last three weeks.

The government projections for the total number of cases by May 5 are between 53,196 and 66,835.

“Right now, we are seeing the tragic paradox of the epidemic playing out as the epidemic comes under control, and the growth of cases slows, the severe outcomes and deaths continue to accrue as COVID-19 takes a heavy toll among highly susceptible,” said Dr. Tam.

Canada is currently closing in on 50,000 known cases, of which more than 2,700 have been fatal as of Tuesday morning.

Dr. Tam added that so far, 740,000 tests have been carried out, with about 20,000 people getting tested daily. Seven percent of those people have tested positive.

The chief health officer suggested that the implementation of social distancing methods last month has helped reduce the number of confirmed cases.

“Prior to implementing public health control measures in March, we estimated that each infected person passed the virus onto an average of just over two additional people. Today, stronger controls, including physical distancing, increased testing to identify and isolate cases and trace and quarantine contacts are helping to reduce the average number of people each case,” said Dr. Tam

She added that the epidemiologic picture in Canada also highlights the various regional differences across our country as Quebec and Ontario account for 80 percent of the confirmed cases in Canada, while BC and Alberta make up the next largest population of cases with 14 percent.

“Until the population has developed a high level of immunity to the virus or we have a vaccine in place, we have to plan to live with a manageable level of COVID-19 activity,” said Tam. “We anticipate that some public health measures will need to remain in place to prevent the sparking and growth of future epidemic waves.”

She also hypothesized that only a small portion of the population will develop an immunity to the coronavirus.

These sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his daily address to Canadians earlier on April 28.

“We’re in the middle of the most serious public health emergency Canada has ever seen and if we lift measures too quickly, we might lose the progress we’ve made,” said Trudeau.

The prime minister did say that unique plans were being developed with each province to slowly, gradually and scientifically start reopening the economy.

With files to Canadian Press.


Graham CoxGraham Cox

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