Canada estimates first wave of coronavirus pandemic may last until summer

Apr 9 2020, 8:24 am

Canada’s COVID-19 transmission hasn’t peaked yet, but the first wave of the pandemic may last until summer, according to the federal top health officials.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo released Canada’s modelling projections on Thursday, forecasting up to 700 deaths and 31,850 coronavirus cases across the country by April 16.

The federal modelling shows “where we are and where we might be heading.”

Longer term modelling, covering the course of the pandemic, shows 11,000 to 22,000 deaths with strong epidemic control. That number goes as high as 300,000 with no epidemic measures in place.

But, Dr. Tam said, while there are projections, it is too early to know how close Canada is to seeing a “peak” in transmissions.

“We don’t know if we’ve reached the peak anywhere in Canada yet,” said Tam. “It’s too early to tell.”

Dr. Njoo said that it would be difficult to predict when it will occur, and that we would only know we have reached it when we begin to see the downward trend.

“But, we can predict — if we do our best in terms of physical distancing — the first wave may end in the summer,” he said, adding that the epidemic won’t be over.

Government of Canada

Dr. Njoo also said with respect to the downward curve, 50% of cases can occur after the peak, “so it’s important to keep in place public health measures.”

Health officials are forecasting that smaller subsequent waves following the first wave, and it “all depends on what’s happening in provinces and territories.”

During that time, some provinces may be able to relax some of their public health measures, if they’re at a different point in their curve, for example.

But until then, all the public health measures including social distancing will be in place.

Government of Canada

“We can not let go of our public health measures,” said Tam. “The moment you release anything, the trains of transmission is going to ignite.”

She said we need the initial epidemic to be stamped out, and things would be recalibrated at the time.

“We all play a role in what the future will hold for Canada’s COVID-19 trajectory,” said Tam in a statement.

“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.”