The figures came Thursday morning as officials publish models on how the COVID-19 crisis could unfold in the country.
An information session is underway with the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Howard Njoo and Stephen Lucas, the Deputy Minister of health. Watch it live here.
Longer-term projections examine scenarios for which rigorous controls are followed (1 to 10% of the infected population), weaker controls (25 to 50% infected) and no controls (70 to 80% infected).
With rigorous controls, if about 2.5 to 5% of the population were infected, this would mean between 934,000 and 1.9 million cases. It would also mean up to 22,000 deaths and between 23,000 and 46,000 ICU admissions.
Officials said the workload in Canada doubled every three to five days, which is considered to be a relatively positive trajectory compared to other countries. Tam said it was largely due to lessons learned from other countries on how tight controls can limit the spread of the virus.
“Prevent every death we can”
She warned that measures that can create “hardship” are essential to keep ICU admissions and deaths as low as possible.
“We cannot prevent every death, but we must prevent every death that we can,” she said.
Tam said it was early to know how close Canada is nationally to a “peak” in transmission.
The analysis of the number of people who could be infected, become sick or die from the virus occurs just before the long weekend of vacation.
Tam said the models are “flawed” but that they can help understand the state of the pandemic and where it could go, as well as the effect of public health measures on the transmission of the virus.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly told Canadians that the speed and distance at which the virus spreads is largely dependent on the thoroughness with which Canadians follow public health advice, including physical distance, hand washing and keeping at home as much as possible.
Several provinces have already released projections. Ontario Estimates Deaths In The Province could reach between 3,000 and 15,000 people during the pandemic, which could last up to two years.
Tam warned that models that try to predict how many people could become infected and die from coronavirus are not “crystal balls” and that it is important to focus on what is happening in real time.
How the projections materialize depends largely on the actions of individuals and governments, she said.