Canada’s leading doctor says models are not “crystal balls” as calls to publish national screenings increase

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Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says that models that try to predict how many people could become infected and die from coronavirus are not “crystal balls” and that it is more important to focus on what’s going on with the epidemic in real time.

Tam said that public health officials and the federal government use different models for planning purposes, but whether or not different projections materialize depends heavily on the actions of governments and citizens.

“The use of modeling or other projections always describes a range of possibilities … these are not real crystal balls or real numbers,” said Tam. “This is why we continue to say that we must act now and practice social isolation, self-isolation, hand hygiene and all these measures, because the fate of these possibilities and scenarios is in our hands. “

The comments come as pressure mounts on the federal government to release national projections of the number of cases and deaths that could result from the pandemic which has already claimed the lives of more than 200 Canadians while infecting more 13,000 others.

More provincial screenings on the way

On Friday, the Ontario government released a series of projections showing that between 3,000 and 15,000 people could die in the province from complications from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, over a two-year period.

The model also included forecasts of when the province’s hospital capacity could become overloaded.

Before that, the BC government released projections showing that physical distancing measures had reduced the rate of increase in confirmed cases per day to 12% from 24%, and that hospitals in the province had the capacity to manage a epidemic, even serious, similar to what happened in China. Hubei Province ..

Alberta and Quebec have committed to release projections next week.

Look: Trudeau says the government will continue to collect the data necessary to make COVID-19 predictions.

Trudeau says the federal government will continue to collect the data necessary to make broader COVID-19 forecasts. 0:25

The Public Health Agency of Canada released an online dashboard on Saturday that presents a number of data points showing the current state of the epidemic across the country. Data show the number of cases and deaths broken down by category, including age, sex and location.

This is the first time that authoritative data has been personalized and interactively integrated, said Tam.

But the dashboard does not include projections for the future showing how COVID-19 could play out in the coming months, including the number of people hospitalized and the number of deaths in the county.

Trudeau without commitment on national screenings

During his daily briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would not commit to releasing national projections, but said that the federal government would continue to collect and collect data from the provinces to provide a picture of what is happening across the country.

“We recognize that people want to know how bad it will go, how long it will last,” said Trudeau.

“One thing is always clear – the measures that have been put in place by all levels of government, from closing schools to keeping people at home, are saving lives,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau said the government would continue to publish updated data daily and use it to inform decisions.

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