Canadian cases of COVID-19 could climb to 15k by end of March, say York researchers

COVID outbreak image
COVID outbreak image

York University researchers project that Canada will have 15,000 cases of COVID-19 by March 31 unless there are further public health interventions.

A rapid increase in public health interventions implemented now could reduce that number to 4,000, according to the research, which will be published in the journal Infectious Disease Modelling.

York University Distinguished Research Professor Jianhong Wu Faculty of Science. Photograph by Paola Scattolon
Jianhong Wu (image: Paola Scattolon)

The research, “Canada Needs to Rapidly Escalate Public Health Interventions for its COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies,” already online at SSRN, was led by Faculty of Science math modelling Professor Jianhong Wu, director of the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation at York.

“Prompt and farsighted interventions are critical to counteract the very rapid initial growth of COVID-19 in Canada,” says Wu. “That means plans for mitigation need to take into account the delayed effect of interventions by up to 14 days and that the doubling of cases can happen in just three to four days.”

The researchers, including Post-Doctoral Fellows Francesca Scarabel and Nicola Bragazzi, looked at intervention measures in different countries and found that intervention measures have been effective in reducing the growth rate of the virus and delaying the doubling of cases. However, those effects can be delayed by up to two weeks.

The researchers in this preliminary analysis looked particularly at Italy’s results as Canada has a similar demographic. Although, they don’t believe Canada will be the next Italy, they do note that intervention measures are needed now to not overwhelm the healthcare system.