Under the current public health measures up to 44,000 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the months ahead. However, federal modelling shows the death rate could skyrocket if efforts stopped.
Speaking to these projections during his daily address on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said keeping the number of deaths as low as possible depends on what each person does now, but it will “take months of continued, determined effort.”
Federal projections released by Health Canada detailed the overall best- and worst-case scenarios for the pandemic’s spread and impact in Canada, varying on the degree of actions taken by governments and Canadians.
Referencing the data, Trudeau said the peak of cases in Canada may come in late spring, with the end of the first wave in the summer.
“We have the chance to determine what our country looks like in the weeks and months to come. Our healthcare systems across the country are coping for the time being, but we’re at a fork in the road, between the best and the worst possible outcomes,” Trudeau said. “The best possible outcome is no easy path for any of us.”
“There will likely be smaller outbreaks for a number of months after that. This will be the new normal, until a vaccine is developed,” he said, adding that some estimates show that some level of public health measures could be needed for the next six to eight months, or for as long as a year and a half.
Trudeau said this, coupled with more than one million jobs being lost in March, is obviously “difficult news.”
“We are unfortunately going to continue to lose people across this country in the coming weeks… We can continue to do what is necessary for the coming weeks and months to get through this first wave in the right way so we can get back to being there for each other in the coming year,” he said.
The prime minister also said that the work underway to develop more sophisticated testing and contact tracing is going to improve the global grasp on the virus that’s kneecapped global economies and changed how societies act.
WIDE RANGE OF SCENARIOS
The scenarios indicate that, depending on the containment efforts, between 4,000 and 300,000 people in Canada could die from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. Though, the current reality of the virus has Canada closer to the lower end of that spectrum and the two more developed scenarios from Health Canada under the current strong measures show that the range is likely somewhere between 11,000 and 22,000 Canadian deaths.
The short-term federal projection on the spread of COVID-19 shows that between 500 and 700 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the next week, with the number of cases rising to between 22,580 and 31,850 cases.
If 2.5 per cent of the population contracts the virus, that would mean:
- 934,000 Canadians get sick;
- 73,000 could be hospitalized;
- 23,000 people could end up in the intensive care unit; and
- 11,000 people could die.
If the percentage of the population that gets sick hits 5 per cent, that would mean:
- 1,879,000 contract COVID-19;
- 146,000 could be hospitalized;
- 46,000 people could end up in the ICU; and
- 22,000 people could die.
If that grows further to 10 per cent of the population, approximately 44,000 people in Canada could die.
With no control efforts in place, up to 80 per cent of Canadians could contract the virus. That scenario could result in a summertime peak and more than 300,000 deaths, which is approximately equivalent to the total number of deaths from all causes in Canada each year.
Health Canada says the current pandemic parameters Canadians are living under are considered strong controls, such as physical distancing, and quarantining travellers, whereas if fewer people stay home or do not act like they could be carrying the virus there will be a weaker hold on the disease.
The data and modelling released Thursday is informing the current national public health measures in place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the numbers “stark,” but cautioned that these possible scenarios are imperfect given the different regional epidemics, and the outcomes will ultimately be determined by Canadians’ actions.
Tam said that means everything that can be done, must be done, to keep Canada’s trajectory within the range of best-case scenarios, “despite all the hardships and cost.”
Tam said that community transmission in Canada started later than in other countries, our per capita testing rate is higher than most countries, and the increase in total number of cases has been slower here than in other nations.
“In the last weeks a lot has been done, and we will need to monitory every single day the evolution of the outbreak and the trajectory so we can recalibrate as needed,” she said.
Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
PEAK ‘WON’T BE THE END’
Under all scenarios the peak appears to be coming sometime between late spring and early fall.
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said it appears that the first wave of the virus will last until the summer, and “that won’t be the end.”
He said it’ll be up to each region of the country to monitor their curves and change their local public health approach accordingly.
As Trudeau echoed, Health Canada cautioned that in the absence of a treatment or vaccine, the fight against the disease is likely going to require waves of epidemic controls, spanning months.
For example, Canadians could still be instructed to distance themselves from others and practise hand hygiene; international and domestic travel restrictions could remain in place; and incoming travellers could face mandatory 14-day isolations.
Calling the potential second and third resurgences of the novel coronavirus that could come before a cure is found “wavelets,” Trudeau said Canadians will be “much better equipped” to handle them.
“We will have developed both tools and habits that will allow us to be much more resilient and resistant to further outbreaks and spreads,” Trudeau said.
Also playing a factor in the scenarios is the increase in health care capacity, from stocking up on lifesaving supplies like ventilators, to having enough workers able to respond to the surge of patients.
Prior to physical distancing and other steps being taken, Health Canada estimates that each infected person in Canada passed the respiratory disease on to more than two people on average, but that has since been decreased, but we have not yet reached the point of stopping all spread.
Several provinces have already released their best- and worst-case projections for the number of deaths and cases, as well as how long they estimate it will take to contain the virus that’s already infected more than 20,000 Canadians and killed more than 500 people nationwide.
‘CAUGHT OFF GUARD’
Facing questions about how Canada ended up a month into a global pandemic with months ahead of us and thousands of deaths expected, Trudeau said countries around the world were “caught off guard” by COVID-19.
“The challenges that we’ve faced in terms of getting Canadians protected are echoed in challenges faced around the world, and some countries are handling it better than others… And of course, there’ll be lots of lessons learned from this,” the prime minster said.
“I think we all know that this was a situation that we’re adjusting as best we can to. We took the advice of experts, we move forward in significant ways. As we look back at the end of this I’m sure people will say: ‘Oh you could have done this a few days before, or maybe you did this one too quickly and you could have taken a few more days to reflect on it.’ Every step of the way we make the best decisions we can, given the information we have. And if it’s not exactly right, we fix it and we try and get it better as we move forward.”
Evoking war-time language, and noting that Thursday marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War battle of Vimy Ridge, Trudeau said Thursday that things will get better, but first Canadians will have to sacrifice and do what can be done to prevent as many deaths as possible.
Almost 3,600 Canadians died during this battle, and more than 7,000 were injured.
“As historians have noted reflecting on Vimy, it was a moment ordinary people did extraordinary things… And their legacy lives on in our women and men in uniform who are there for us in times of need, in our nurses and doctors who put themselves in harm’s way for us all to stay healthy, in everyone who steps up, and asks what they can do for their fellow Canadians,” Trudeau said.
“That’s what makes Canada strong. And that will always be our path forward, no matter what tomorrow may bring.”
Federal-provincial co-ordination might have prevented COVID-19 outbreak, says premier – CBC.ca
An outbreak of COVID-19 in the Maritimes on the weekend might have been avoided if Canada Border Services had better communication with the provinces, says P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.
The outbreak, including four out of five new cases on P.E.I. and one in Nova Scotia, started with a man travelling from the U.S. to Canada on a student visa. The man was reportedly planning to study on P.E.I. but was turned away at Confederation Bridge because he did not have pre-approval.
As it turned out, the man did have COVID-19. He spread it to a P.E.I. man he met with in Nova Scotia, and the Island man spread it to three other people back on P.E.I.
Speaking on CBC’s Island Morning Tuesday, King said while he doesn’t have the specifics of this case, it is likely the man would not have been admitted to the province for study at this time, despite having a student visa allowing him to study in Canada.
“We need to have a greater, in-synch protocol in place between the border services and the provincial jurisdictions,” said King.
“When an individual crosses the international border, such as into Toronto, are border agents asking them if your final destination is X, have you been in touch with that jurisdiction to make sure all of your protocols are met. What we’re trying to determine now is, is that question being asked.”
King noted that P.E.I. has turned away dozens of travellers at Confederation Bridge for not having documentation.
Governments are still working on putting in place systems so that border controls can work efficiently and effectively, King said.
Bubble still open
The new cases in the Maritimes came on the same weekend as freedom of movement around Atlantic Canada.
With the opening of the Atlantic bubble, residents of the four eastern provinces can move around the region without having to self-isolate. Border controls between the provinces remain in place.
Officials on P.E.I. have emphasized that this outbreak is in no way connected to the Atlantic bubble, and King said he is not at this time considering closing it.
P.E.I.’s contact tracing system was tested by this outbreak and it worked very well, he said.
“In this particular case I’m very, very pleased and proud of the public health officials and how they’ve undertaken their jobs,” said King.
He said he would only consider closing the bubble if an outbreak caused a strain on either the contact tracing system or the health system.
But he emphasized he is ready to shut the bubble down, and do it quickly, to protect the health of Islanders.
More from CBC P.E.I.
Canada adds 288 new coronavirus cases as curve continues to flatten – Globalnews.ca
The number was nearly identical to the totals recorded for Saturday and Sunday. Many provinces waited until Monday to report those numbers, taking a weekend break from daily updates.
Nine more deaths were reported Monday as well, three of them in Quebec — marking the lowest death toll for the province since April 2. The remaining six were in British Columbia, representing a cumulative total since Friday. One of the deaths occurred in June, but has only now been attributed to COVID-19.
Ontario also reported no new deaths Monday for the first time since the end of March.
Canada has now seen 105,915 lab-confirmed cases, along with 8,693 deaths. A total of 69,570 cases have since recovered.
Although it didn’t see any new deaths, Ontario still reported 154 new coronavirus cases Monday, and Quebec saw 74 more cases.
Nova Scotia reported one new case, the only Atlantic province to do so Monday.
Saskatchewan saw three more cases over the past 24 hours, while Manitoba stayed clear of new infections. Alberta added 49 new cases, and British Columbia reported seven.
While the Yukon and Northwest Territories haven’t reported any new cases for over two months now, Nunavut is awaiting confirmation of its first-ever presumptive case, which was reported Thursday.
All provinces and territories are in the midst of slowly reopening their economies after weeks of shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, which federal modelling suggests remains on a downward trajectory.
Daily totals of new cases have been hovering around 300 for over a week, after spiking past 400 in late June.
We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change
Worldwide, the novel coronavirus pandemic has grown to over 11.5 million confirmed cases and has killed at least 536,000 people, according to public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
In the United States, confirmed cases are closing in on three million as cases continue to surge in several states. The country has been reporting an average of 50,000 new cases daily since the end of June.
Researchers and public health officials around the world say the true number of infections is likely far higher due to limitations in testing.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Clearview AI stops offering facial recognition software in Canada amid privacy probe – CBC.ca
Clearview AI, the controversial U.S.-based technology firm, will no longer make its facial recognition software available in Canada. Federal and provincial privacy authorities made the announcement on Monday and then Clearview confirmed it to CBC News.
A statement issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said Clearview had advised officials of the decision in response to an ongoing investigation by the privacy authorities of Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.
In its announcement Monday, the federal privacy commissioner’s office said the joint investigation into Clearview would remain open and that “authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians.”
In a statement emailed to CBC News, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said, ”In response to [the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s] request, Clearview AI has ceased its operations in Canada.”
“We are proud of our record in assisting Canadian law enforcement to solve some of the most heinous crimes, including crimes against children. We will continue to co-operate with [the Office of the Privacy Commissioner] on other related issues.”
Ann Cavoukian, a former Ontario privacy commissioner, called the announcement “great news.”
“This shows that we can indeed make a difference and stop privacy-invasive practices,” said Cavoukian, who now serves as executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design in Toronto.
The company first came under scrutiny earlier this year when it boasted about collecting billions of photos from the internet to feed its facial recognition app.
Clearview said the tool is meant to allow police to “identify perpetrators and victims of crimes,” but privacy advocates worried the technology could fall into the wrong hands or lead to a dystopian future in which anyone can be identified within seconds whether they consent to facial recognition or not.
Software used by police forces
Monday’s statement by federal and provincial privacy authorities said the RCMP was “Clearview’s last remaining client in Canada” and that the contract would be suspended indefinitely. A separate investigation into the Mounties’ use of the software would also continue, the federal privacy watchdog said.
RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin confirmed the Mounties’ National Child Exploitation Crime Centre “no longer has a license with Clearview AI and has stopped using its software.” She did not indicate exactly when the force ended its use of the app.
WATCH | Canadians’ faces in Clearview AI database:
Another “ongoing issue under investigation by the authorities is the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected, as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians’ personal information,” the federal privacy watchdog’s statement said.
CBC News reported in June that while Clearview was offering residents of certain jurisdictions the opportunity to request their data be deleted from the firm’s database, it did not appear Canadians were eligible.
Ton-That told CBC News that Canadians will now “be able to opt out of Clearview’s search results” without specifying how people could do so.
On Monday afternoon, the company’s website still quoted an unnamed “detective constable in the sex crimes unit” of a Canadian law enforcement agency as saying, “Clearview AI is hands-down the best thing that has happened to victim identification in the last 10 years.”
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