It has been just over a month since Canada hit its 600th case of coronavirus, and as of April 23 the country has seen 41,791 confirmed cases — up by over 10,000 from a week ago, when we were at 29,925.
Other countries had already been in the tens of thousands of cases roughly a month ago, so we decided to take a look at their curves for an idea of where Canada might be heading.
Since then, we’ve been keeping an eye on Canada’s curve, and while ours isn’t looking nearly as tall as some of the hardest-hit countries like Italy, the US, and Spain, we’re still on an upward 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 five weeks since hitting their own 600-mark — the point at which we began comparing countries to Canada — Italy saw total known cases rise to 119,827, Iran to 58,226, Spain to 180,659, the US to 677,570, and Germany to 130,072 — meaning that Canada’s virus spread is, as far as detected cases go, quite a bit slower than some of these hardest hit countries.
Seeing as many of these harder-hit countries saw sharp increases well before the virus had taken off in Canada, taking a look at when they started to see a decrease in active cases (i.e., when the number of recoveries and deaths combined began to outpace new infections) could give us an idea of when we’ll begin to see the peak of our own curve.
Spain, which saw its 600th case roughly one week before Canada did, has seemingly just reached the peak of their own curve, with daily new cases and recoveries beginning to equal out.
Italy, one of the counties most devastated by the coronavirus, began to see its own active cases curve level out earlier this week. When we first began to compare where countries were at over a month ago, we found that Italy had been about two weeks ahead of Canada.
Our neighbours to the south, however, are still facing a steep climb for both total cases and active cases.
For some context, the US currently has the world’s largest number of known cases at 848,717 as of April 22.
One week after hitting 44,189 known cases on March 23 (roughly the same number of cases Canada currently has), America had shot up to a count of 165,851 by March 30.
Our five-week curve since hitting 600 has already proven itself to be not nearly as steep as our cross-border neighbours. 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, however. Factoring that into the equation finds America with an average of 2,620 cases per one million people, while Canada sits at 1,107 cases per one million people.
The worldwide average is at 346 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 month’s international update, there are other countries that have managed to keep infection rates to a minimum in the weeks following that 600th known case.
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, with only 11 new cases detected on April 22 for a total of just 10,702.
Poland, which is among the closest to Canada’s population out of any other country in the world, hit 600 cases just a few days before we did. In the time since, they’ve seen an increase to just 10,511 known cases as of April 22.
While it appears that Canada is angling a little closer to Iran’s rate of infection than South Korea’s or Poland’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.”
Canada’s own active cases chart doesn’t appear to be levelling out at all, but given that we haven’t seen such a sharp uptick as some other countries, we may see our peak much later if we have actually succeeded in flattening the curve.
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.
So 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 thousands, or tens of thousands, in the weeks to come.