Ottawa releases COVID-19 fatality numbers ahead of long weekend

The Public Health Agency of Canada says with strong control measures, including social distancing, between 11,000 and 22,000 Canadians could die as a result of COVID-19.

The agency released its modeling data Thursday morning.

It offered different scenarios on what could happen and warned that outcomes depend on how Canadians behave to keep the respiratory illness from spreading.

“These stark numbers tell us we must do everything we can now to remain in that best-case scenario,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, head of the PHAC. “We must minimize the population infected … in order to keep deaths, ICU admissions and hospitalizations as low as possible.”

Worst case scenario has 44,000 Canadians dying from the novel coronavirus.

As of this posting, 502 Canadians have died including a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario who passed Wednesday evening.

APTN News requested the numbers for Indigenous peoples but did not hear back by the time this story was posted.

The number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has surpassed 20,000.

In response to the projections, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it would take months of determined effort to temper the worst outcomes. Canada, he said, was at a crossroad, and how scrupulously people observed isolation measures would determine what happens.

“We are going to continue to lose people across this country in the coming weeks,” said Trudeau, who noted normal was still a long way away. “We will not be coming back to our former normal situation; we can’t do that until we have developed a vaccine and that could take 12 to 18 months.”

The pandemic has infected more than 1.5 million people around the world and claimed 90,000 lives. The United States now has the highest recorded deaths due to the virus with more than 15,000 people succumbing to the virus with no cure.

The COVID-19 projections came on the same day Statistics Canada released unemployment figures for March.

According to the agency, more than one million people lost their jobs last month resulting in an unemployment rate of 7.8 per cent nationally, up from 5.6 per cent at the end of February.

The federal government said more than five million people had applied for the government’s emergency jobless benefit.

With files from the Canadian Press

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.