By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - As many as 100,000 Canadians could die unless strong controls are practiced to slow the spread of COVID-19, Canadian health authorities predicted Thursday.
For the first time, officials presented national figures of infection and deaths under three models; strong control measures like social distancing and weaker ones and no controls at all.
Officials stressed the figures, based on available data, could change since the situation is fluid and statistics shift.
“Data and models can help Canadians see how our collective efforts … can determine the trajectory of Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic,” chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said at a news conference Thursday.
With strong measures, the estimated number of victims will be between 11,000 with 2.5% of Canadians infected, and 22,000 if the infection rate reaches 5%.
Strong measures include frequent hand washing, staying home except for once-a-week trips to buy groceries and getting prescriptions, and when out staying at least six feet (1.5 meters) from others.
“We will have to be disciplined,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference following the release of the figures. “That is how we will save lives.”
If the measures are not followed, the infection rate could be 25% and deaths could reach 100,000. With no control efforts, up to 80% of Canadians could be infected with 300,000 deaths.
“These stark numbers tell us we must do everything in our power to stay in the control model,” Tam said.
Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public officer of health, said the first wave of the virus will go on until summer, but there will be months of outbreaks after the virus peaks, meaning strong control measures will need to be continued.
“This will be the new normal,” Trudeau said, “until a vaccine is found.”