Coronavirus spread is slowing in Canada, but “we are not out of the woods yet,” PM Trudeau

Written by: Brandon Pham and Angelo Cruz

During his daily news conference outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Prime minister Justin Trudeau said today that new modelling shows the health measures taken have worked in slowing the spread of the new coronavirus, but cautioned that easing the restrictions too quickly may end up erasing all the progress made to date.

“Earlier this month, when we released the first modelling, I said that the path ahead was up to us. The same holds true today. How many new cases there are, how many losses we have to mourn, whether our hospitals can continue to cope, it’s all up to all of us,” said Prime minister Trudeau.

“The measures we have taken so far are working. In fact, in many parts of the country, the curve has flattened. But we are not out of the woods yet,” Trudeau said during his daily briefing.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Canada has more than 49,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 2,800 deaths relating to the virus.

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced today that over six million surgical masks and over 100 thousand face shields made by Bauer and Toronto Stamp will be shipped to all the provinces and territories that require the equipment for the frontline workers.

“Everyone deserves to be safe on the job.” He said.

During his address, Prime Minister Trudeau also called for unity and cooperation amongst Canadians, which is of utmost importance during this time, and that everyone must stand up against the racism and discrimination against Asian-Canadians and the anti-Semitism that has increased in the country during this pandemic.

“Hatred of any sort has no place in Canada”.

Prime minister Trudeau also mentioned that over 44 thousand businesses have applied for the wage subsidy CEWS program which has opened for application on Monday.

Coronavirus spread is slowing in Canada

Federal health officials released today updated projections on the number of potential cases and deaths in Canada from COVID-19. The new modelling has been revised to take into consideration how deadly the coronavirus has on long-term care homes, which was initially underestimated by Canada public health officials.

Chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says the data shows Canada is slowing the overall spread of the first wave of the virus. 

“We are making clear progress to slow the spread and bring the epidemic under control,” she said in a briefing with journalists to explain the new modelling data.

In previous projections, on April 9,Canada’s confirmed case count was doubling every three to five days. At this time, the number of cases is doubling at a rate of every 16 days.”

Dr. Tam noted that on April 9, data showed each infected person had spread the coronavirus to 2.19 other individuals, while the current transmission rate sees the virus spread to just over one other person.

However, the fatality rate from COVID-19 was initially calculated as about 2.2 per cent, Dr. Tam said the rate is now 5.5 per cent taking into account the spike in deaths in long-term care homes.

Overall, 79 per cent of the total deaths in the country occurred in long-term and senior homes, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). People over the age of 60 accounts for 95% of the total deaths.

Dr. Tam added, “Until the epidemic is over, you actually don’t know the true case fatality rate.” 

“These are dynamic until you actually get to the bottom of the epidemic.”

Public health officials provide new short-term projections

Health officials also provided on Tuesday a forecast suggesting the country could see total deaths of between 3,277 and 3,883, with 53,196 to 66,835 total confirmed cases could hit by May 5.  

The new modelling data released today did not alter long-term projections in the previous model which suggested between 11,000 and 22,000 people could die from the virus in a “best-case scenario” where 2.5 to five per cent of the population is infected.

Dr. Tam warned that there could be a significant “second wave” of infections if Canadians drop their guard.

Framework on reopening economies released today

The Federal and provincial governments have jointly agreed on a guiding framework to reopen economies. A “gradual and phased approach” to lifting restrictions, protecting high-risk groups and ensuring the health care system retains the capacity to respond to future outbreaks was also released today.

Prime minister Trudeau said Canadians’ actions going forward will decide whether the progress continues.

Photo Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press

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