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- INTERACTIVE | Tracking the coronavirus in Canada.
People in Alberta and Quebec got a sense of how the COVID-19 epidemic might unfold in those provinces on Tuesday as health experts and officials presented a range of projections and scenarios around how the virus will spread.
Saskatchewan and Newfoundland are expected to offer some coronavirus projections on Wednesday.
Premier Jason Kenney outlined what he described as a “probable” scenario for Alberta on Tuesday that suggested the province won’t see a peak in the virus until mid-May. That model suggested Alberta could see as many as 800,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the summer with death figures ranging from 400 to 3,100. Another more “elevated” scenario pointed toward the possibility of both higher case numbers and between 500 and 6,600 deaths.
Kenney noted that the figures may seem overwhelming, and was quick to caution that the models are “not a done deal.”
“How many people are infected, how many die, whether we overwhelm our health-care system — all of that depends on us and our choices.”
WATCH | Quebec presents COVID-19 scenarios:
Quebec also offered up modelling information at the request of Premier François Legault, who wanted to share the information publicly despite concerns from his chief public health official.
The modelling out of Quebec suggested the province could see between 1,200 and 9,000 deaths by the end of April. Public health officials noted that the current thinking is that the number of deaths will be closer to the lower estimate.
Ontario presented its modelling last week, and the federal government has suggested it will do the same once it has sufficient information from the provinces — though when that might be was not immediately clear.
- Curious about what projections mean? Get a sense of how to interpret COVID-19 disease models and projections
- Get a closer look at the modelling projected for Alberta and take a deep dive into the projections out of Quebec
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has previously noted that projections are used for planning purposes and are not “crystal balls.” The models can vary widely, Tam has said, and are “highly sensitive to our actions,” including measures like physical distancing, self-isolation and handwashing.
According to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, there have been more than 80,000 documented COVID-19-related deaths worldwide. The novel coronavirus first emerged in China, but has since spread to countries around the world, sparking both health crises and economic chaos as countries lockdown to try and limit the outbreak.
WATCH | Unemployment in Alberta could hit 25%:
The Public Health Agency of Canada, which has been monitoring the evolution of the pandemic, said online on Tuesday that though the risk varies between communities the “risk to Canadians is considered high.”
“If we do not flatten the epidemic curve now, the increase of COVID-19 cases could impact health-care resources available to Canadians,” said the PHAC site on coronavirus, which has been updated to include amended guidance on wearing non-medical masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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Tam has urged people to behave as though COVID-19 is in their community, even if local health officials have not confirmed any cases.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada and around the world.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
As of 6 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 17,897 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19. The provinces that release data on patients considered recovered had listed 4,054 cases as resolved. CBC News, which has been tallying the reported deaths, has recorded 421 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada, with two known coronavirus-related deaths of Canadians abroad. Public health officials have noted that the reported figures don’t capture the full picture as they don’t include cases that haven’t been tested or are still under investigation.
British Columbia reported four more COVID-19-related deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 43. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s chief health officer, said she is particularly worried about seniors. “We protect them by connecting safely from a distance.” Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported 25 new cases Tuesday, which was the lowest single-day increase of COVID-19 cases reported in the province in weeks. The province also announced two more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, bringing the provincial total to 26. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
Health officials in Saskatchewan are expected to release their own COVID-19 projections on Wednesday, as well as information on how the health system is preparing for an expected surge in cases. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba reported its third COVID-19-related death on Tuesday. The death came as Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s top public health official, said the virus was not yet near its peak. “I think we’re going to see many, many more cases here in Manitoba, but we know we’re going to continue with our efforts and we’re going to escalate our efforts if necessary. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
In Ontario, public health experts have been calling for more widespread testing, but data from the province’s health ministry indicates that the province is falling short of its target. Read more from CBC’s Mike Crawley on how the province is testing for COVID-19.
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Health officials in Quebec are worried about COVID-19 in long-term care homes as case numbers in vulnerable seniors are on the rise. At one long-term care home in Laval, nearly half of the residents have coronavirus and eight people have died. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
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Nova Scotia reported its first COVID-19-related death on Tuesday. Premier Stephen McNeil repeated his call for people to stay home and keep their distance when they go out, saying: “This virus kills and the only way we can kill it is if we keep our distance from one another. And for the love of God, stay home and stop partying please, for the sake of our province.” Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia.
In Prince Edward Island, the government is waiting to hear from the federal government about whether the coronavirus will delay the start of the spring lobster season, which was set to open in early May. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
The health minister in Newfoundland and Labrador is warning people to stay home over the long weekend. “We need to get this right. This weekend you won’t notice the difference. Next week you’ll notice it in 10 to 14 days’ time,” John Haggie said. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
Yukon announced Tuesday that students won’t have any more face-to-face classes this academic year. Read more about what’s happening across Canada’s North, including new advice around masks for people in the Northwest Territories.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 9:50 a.m. ET
Across the United States, the death toll linked to the coronavirus outbreak has topped 12,900, with nearly 400,000 confirmed infections. Some of the deadliest hot spots are Detroit, New Orleans and the New York metropolitan area, which includes parts of Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.
A leader of the White House’s coronavirus response team is warning there could be another wave of U.S. infections if people don’t stick with the health guidelines recommending they stay indoors and avoid social interactions.
Dr. Deborah Birx said: “If people start going out again, socially interacting, we could see a very acute second wave very early.”
Birx told NBC’s Today show she’s “hopeful” the United States will have fewer than the projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. She said people have been following the 30-day recommendations to stay at least six feet away from others, wash their hands regularly with soap and water, use hand sanitizer and avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
But Birx said what’s “really important” is people “don’t turn these early signs of hope into releasing from the 30 days to stop the spread.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump threatened to freeze U.S. funding to the World Health Organization, saying the international group had “missed the call” on the pandemic.
Trump said the WHO had “called it wrong” on the virus and that the organization was “very China-centric” in its approach, suggesting that it had gone along with Beijing’s efforts months ago to minimize the severity of the outbreak.
Here’s what’s happening in other hard-hit areas around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 10 a.m. ET
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is responding to treatment in intensive care at a central London hospital, his spokesperson told reporters on Wednesday.
“The prime minister remains clinically stable and is responding to treatment. He continues to be cared for in the intensive care unit at St. Thomas’ Hospital. He is in good spirits.”
On Tuesday, Downing Street said Johnson was receiving standard oxygen treatment and breathing without assistance. The country’s confirmed death toll reached 6,159 as of Tuesday, an increase of 786 from 24 hours earlier. That was the biggest daily leap to date, although the deaths reported Tuesday occurred over several days.
Spain’s Health Ministry reported Wednesday 757 new deaths of patients with coronavirus and 6,180 new confirmed infections. Both figures were slightly higher than Tuesday’s, when the first increase in five days was explained by a backlog of test results and fatalities that had gone unreported over the weekend. But doubts about the statistics are growing as fresh data starts to emerge.
Authorities in Spain have already acknowledged that a scarcity of testing kits and a bottleneck in the number of tests that laboratories can conduct on a daily basis are giving an underestimated contagion tally, which rose to 146,000 on Wednesday. A nationwide survey of 30,000 households has been launched to figure out what is the more approximate extent of the epidemic beyond hospitals and nursing homes.
In Italy, the hardest-hit country of all with over 17,000 deaths, authorities appealed to people ahead of Easter weekend not to lower their guard and to abide by a lockdown now in its fifth week, even as new cases dropped to a level not seen since the early weeks of the outbreak.
In Germany, the daily case tally increased for the second straight day after four previous days of decreases.
France should extend its lockdown for several weeks, a chief medical adviser said, after it became the fourth country to register more than 10,000 deaths. A French military ship is heading back to port after some staff on board showed signs of COVID-19 symptoms.
The Chinese city of Wuhan ended its two-month lockdown, even as a small northern city ordered restrictions on its residents amid concern about a second wave of infections.
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India’s financial hub Mumbai is set to extend lockdown measures until at least April 30 as authorities race to expand testing. The number of confirmed cases in India has crossed the 5,000 mark, with 149 deaths. The country has only conducted 121,271 tests, but is likely to scale up testing in the coming days. India has put its entire population, one-fifth of the worlds’ population, under lockdown until April 14.
Commuters packed into trains in the Japanese capital on Wednesday, the first day of a state of emergency, with some expressing confusion over how best to restrict their movements.
South Korea’s government said on Wednesday it will increase restrictions on people travelling from overseas to prevent new coronavirus infections, and announced new stimulus measures for exporters hit by the outbreak. South Korea will temporarily suspend visa waivers for citizens of countries that have imposed travel bans on South Koreans, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.
Singapore announced new measures to accelerate local food production, including a plan to turn car park rooftops in public housing estates into urban farms. Hong Kong extended physical-distancing restrictions, including the closure of some bars and pubs and a ban on public gatherings of more than four people, until April 23.
As of Wednesday, Indonesia had identified nearly 3,000 cases and recorded 240 deaths. But public health experts and epidemiologists point to the relatively low frequency of testing and high death rate as indications the true infection rate is likely substantially higher.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pressed harder on Wednesday for a $5 billion US emergency IMF loan the country has sought to fight the Middle East’s worst coronavirus outbreak, saying the Fund would be guilty of discrimination if it withholds the money. Iran has banned intercity travel and shut non-essential businesses to fight an outbreak that, according to official figures, has killed 4,003 people and infected 67,286.
Saudi Arabia’s health minister said the virus could eventually infect between 10,000 and 200,000 people in the country.
South Africa’s health minister said 66 people at a single hospital in Durban have tested positive for the coronavirus in the past few days, including 48 staffers. Zweli Mkhize said authorities are looking into closing parts of St. Augustine’s Hospital.
The minister said less than 100 people across the country are currently hospitalized with the virus. He also sought to reassure anxious health workers after a union went to court over the shortage of protective gear, saying South Africa’s supply should last up to eight weeks. South Africa has Africa’s most confirmed cases with more than 1,700.
The WHO, which has been expressing concern for months over how the virus will impact countries with limited resources and weaker health infrastructure, said there are more than 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases across Africa.
When the virus first appeared in Africa, cases were mainly located in major cities.
“Its spread beyond major cities means the opening of a new front in our fight against this virus,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization regional director for Africa, said in a statement Wednesday. “This requires a decentralized response, which is tailored to the local context.”
WHO called on the international community to offer financial and technical support as countries in Africa ramp up their response.