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Ontario projects 3,000 to 15,000 coronavirus deaths under current measures

Last Updated Apr 3, 2020 at 8:40 pm EDT

Ontario Public Health predicts the province could see between 3,000 to 15,000 coronavirus deaths in the province over the course of the pandemic under the current intervention measures.

Without any measures, they predict 100,000 deaths by the end of the pandemic.

Officials expect 1,600 deaths and 80,000 cases by April 30 under the current scenario.

President of Public Health Dr. Peter Donnelly explained that projections and modeling of a brand new viral disease are “very inexact, but what is important is that we use them early and quickly to advise us to the correct measures to take. That is what has happened in Ontario.”

He adds the full scope of the pandemic could last anywhere between 18 months and two years due to potential secondary and tertiary waves of the coronavirus.

Dr. Donnelly said there is a broad range in the number of potential deaths because “where we end up depends on all of us. If we follow the rules, if we do our best to socially distance, if we look after the elderly and vulnerable in our society, we can get within that range and strive to get as low as possible.”

“To many people these will be shocking figures, but the important thing to stress is that effective actions have been put in place, remain in place and further actions are being proposed.”

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health said based on the provincial data, the city was looking at between 600 to 3,000 deaths before the pandemic runs its course. Dr. Eileen de Villa called the numbers “sobering” and “terrifying.”

“These are more than just numbers, they are our friends, our families and our neighbours. They are our essential workers, our healthcare workers, they are the people that work each and every day to keep us safe. Most of all, these deaths are preventable. This is exactly what keeps me up at night.”

Dr. de Villa reiterated that everyone has a personal responsibility to prevent the numbers from becoming a reality by staying home and adhering to the physical distancing measures.

“If we all do our part, if we all do as much as we can, we can still reduce these numbers,” she said. “I sincerely hope the starkness and clarity of the provincial modelling numbers will be a wake-up call, to all of us, particularly to anyone who does not yet understand the gravity of our situation.”

When it comes to the province’s capacity to treat severely sick people, public health officials predict up to 3,500 people will need to be in the ICU by April 30. The current capacity is 600 beds and the province plans to add 900 additional beds.

There are currently 144 people in the ICU in Ontario.

President of Ontario Health, Matthew Anderson said: “We are trying everything we can to continue to increase the capacity that we have to respond to this disease. However, we need everyone to play their part. We have to try to keep the prevalence of this disease to a minimum to allow our health care system to support those who need it.”

Further measures are expected to be put in place, but need to be put in place carefully, Dr. Donnelly said. Reducing the number of essential businesses is something that needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully.

Social distancing guidelines will also be enhanced along with more intense enforcement of those measures, including fines for non-compliance.

The immediate action that will be put in place will be enhanced capacity for contract tracing and increased testing, especially for those in long-term care homes and for health care workers.

As for when social distancing measures could end in the province, Dr. Donnelly said when people have enough “herd immunity” or enough of the population has been infected, but added it will take vey complex modeling.

The presentation below contains modelling and projection data surrounding COVID-19 and Ontario. The information was developed by experts at Ontario Health, Public Health Ontario and researchers at Ontario universities, led by Ontario’s COVID-19 Command Table.

More to come