Canada saw its first official coronavirus projections for the country this week.
On Thursday morning, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo released Canada’s projections of the coronavirus through federal modelling that shows “where we are and where we might be heading.”
In their short-term forecasting, the health officials say Canada may see 500 to 700 total deaths, and 22,580 to 31,850 total cases by April 16.
For context, we have seen 19,774 known cases and 461 coronavirus-related deaths as of April 9.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been keeping an eye on how Canada’s curve compares to other countries, and while our’s isn’t looking nearly as tall as some of the hardest hit countries like China, Italy, the USA, and Spain, we’re still looking at a steep trajectory.
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These numbers, and the ones to follow, are supplied by Worldometer, a site reportedly run by an international team of developers, researchers, and volunteers that uses an algorithm to pull from a list of reputable sources including government agencies, the United Nations, and the World Health Organization, to create a live counter of known coronavirus cases around the world.
The numbers presented by Worldometer are estimates based on the latest information, and that the number of known cases in any given country are merely a representation of tested cases and therefore do not accurately represent the unknowable number of actual cases of coronavirus — though it’s the best we have to go off of right now.
While no two countries can ever be directly compared — population density, cultural customs, and speed of government responses are all factors that impact how quickly a virus can spread — taking a look at other countries could give us a bit of an idea of what is ahead for Canada, seeing as we were hit by the virus weeks later.
In the three weeks since hitting their own 600-mark — the point at which we began comparing countries to Canada — China saw total known cases rise to 44,653, Italy to 41,035, Iran to 20,610, Spain to 80,110, the US to 164,875, and Germany to 50,871 — meaning that Canada’s virus spread is, as far as detected cases go, quite a bit slower than some of these hardest hit countries.
We’re definitely looking closer to Iran than we are to China or the US, so let’s take a look at where that country was at a week after hitting the 20,000 mark we’re about to pass.
Iran saw an increase to 35,408 known cases by the following week — slightly above where the Government of Canada predicts we’ll be by the same time, given the 31,850 case projection.
For some context, the US currently has the world’s largest number of known cases at 460,029 as of April 2.
One week after hitting 19,494 known cases on March 20, America had shot up to a count of 104,778 by March 27.
Our three-week curve since hitting 600 has already proven itself to be not nearly as steep as our neighbours to the south. Using the numbers available to us, we have reason to suspect that we will not be hit as hard as America.
Our population is about 1/10th the size of the US. Factoring that into the equation finds America with an average of 1,390 cases per one million people, while Canada sits at 549 per one million people.
The worldwide average is at 204 known cases per one million people, so while we’re not doing nearly as bad as the US, we’re definitely still in the thick of it all.
The future is going to look quite bleak if we’re only taking into account statistics from the most-affected countries, though.
As previously mentioned in last week’s international update, there are other countries that have managed to keep infection rates to a minimum even after cresting 600 known cases.
South Korea jumped from 602 cases to 7,313 cases in the two weeks between February 23 and March 8 but has since seen a significant decrease in daily cases in the week, with only 39 new cases detected on April 8.
Denmark has also seen a much slower uptick in new cases since they hit 600 on March 12, with a total of 1,724 as of March 25 and just 5,635 known cases reported by April 8.
While it appears that Canada is angling a little closer to Iran’s rate of infection than South Korea’s or Denmark’s, we do, fortunately, still have time to act to keep Canada from the exponential spike seen in those even harder-hit countries.
As for when Canada might begin to see an end to this pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that these physical distancing measures could be in place for up to a year or a year and a half, until a vaccine is developed.
“We’re in the earlier state of the outbreak,” said Trudeau. “We’re at a fork in the road in terms of outcomes.”
While there is nothing “lucky” about the current state of the world, Canada is fortunate to have been hit by the virus weeks later than some other countries — giving us time to see the severity of the situation and act accordingly.
We may not yet be on full lockdown like some countries, but the next few days will be among the most critical for curbing the spread of coronavirus throughout the country. The only better time to act would have been during the days we’ve already lost.
Stay home, self-isolate, physical distance, wash your hands, and know that the sacrifices you make today do have an impact on whether or not Canada will see deaths in the hundreds or in the thousands in the weeks to come.