Ontario health officials have projected that provincial death toll for the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the existing measures in place, could be anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000.
On Friday, the province’s projection and modelling data was presented by Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Peter Donnelly, president and CEO of Public Health Ontario.
Donnelly said that if Ontario had no measures put in place over the entirety of the pandemic, there would be 100,000 deaths.
He also said the pandemic may last for 18 months to two years, as there could be a potential second wave of the virus.
“We wanted to show you the severity of the disease if no measures had been put in place, so you could see what would have happened.”
For the month of April, deaths are projected to be 1,600 in the province. If measures had not been in place there may have been 6,000 deaths.
As for cases, projections state that if there were no measures in place, there would be 300,000 cases in Ontario by the end of the month.
With the current measures in place, the health officials say there will be a total of 80,000 cases by the end of the month.
But the health officials said if physical distancing measures are enhanced, there could be 12,500 cases and 200 deaths with full future intervention.
“The models show that the potential to spread COVID-19 is massive and deadly if we don’t act swiftly to stay home and practise physical distancing,” Ford said.
“We owe it to our frontline and essential workers, to our family, friends and neighbours to restrict our travel, and act responsibly. This is the only way we are going to minimize the risk to people, stop the spread and reduce the number of fatalities.”
The president of Public Health Ontario said that the current coronavirus death toll in Ontario is in a similar trajectory to that of the US.
But the trajectory can change if residents follow the appropriate measures suggested by public health.
Also of the 67 deaths reported as of April 3, there has been a high mortality rate for patients aged 80 and older at 16%, with individuals 70 years and older accounting for 10% of the total deaths globally.
Because of this, health officials say that the focus for testing and monitoring must be in this age demographic.
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The health officials presented additional public health measures that focus on immediate and future measures.
The immediate focus is for enhanced capacity for case and contact tracing, which is currently underway.
There is also increased testing with a focus on long-term care, retirement homes, and other congregate settings.
The health officials long-term goals and focus include: reducing the number and types of essential workplaces; enhance enforcement and fines for non-compliance; expand on physical distancing measures, especially in retail settings; enhanced support for elderly, homeless and other vulnerable communities; consider entry restrictions for Indigenous communities; using alerts to reinforce isolation; and additional public education.
Donnelly did note that the province’s backlog of testing has decreased, allowing for more tests to be done, providing better data interpretation.
Right now, the focus is to get the virus reproductive rate below one individual — right now the virus is spread by a reproductive number of two.
“We don’t just want to flatten the curve, we want to chop off the top,” Donnelly said. “We’re still a bit of a way off, but this is the goal.”
Besides chopping off the top, everyone in Ontario is encouraged to continue following public health advice.
“We need to bare down on this disease now,” said Donnelley. “It will save lives, allow our health care system to cope, and ultimately to help our economy bounce back.”
On Thursday, Premier Doug Ford called the data projections “stark.”
“The information will be difficult for some to hear,” he said, adding that the situation is “extremely, extremely serious.”