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COVID-19 death toll in Ontario could have reached 100,000 without intervention, projections show

Last Updated Apr 4, 2020 at 7:15 am PDT

A sign points to the direction of a COVID-19 assessment centre at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on March 26, 2020. CITYNEWS/Daniel Frechette

With safety measures in place, 3,000 to 15,000 deaths expected over the course of the pandemic

Officials expect 1,600 deaths and 80,000 cases by April 30

Projections, modeling of viral disease are inexact: president of public health

TORONTO (680 NEWS) — Ontario modelling projections suggest 100,000 people in the province could have died from COVID-19, without current public health measures.

With physical distancing and other safety measures, along with closing schools before March break, the same projections predict 3,000 to 15,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to Ontario Public Health.

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 these 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 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,” adds Donnelly.

When it comes to the province’s capacity to treat patients in the ICU, 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.

“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,”
Ontario Health President Matthew Anderson said.

Further measures are expected to be put in place, but it needs 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 contact tracing and increased testing, especially for those in long-term care homes and for health care workers.