What does “reaching the peak” of the COVID-19 pandemic mean? – Lake Country Calendar


The latest set of government projections for the COVID-19 pandemic includes an increasingly common phrase – reaching the top. but what does that mean exactly? Some experts are involved:

What does it mean to reach a peak in a pandemic?

Infectious disease and statistical modeling experts say reaching the peak of a pandemic curve means that the number of new cases has started to stabilize rather than continuing on a clear upward path. Such a scenario takes place this week in Ontario, where public health officials said the province is experiencing the peak of the epidemic in the general community despite recording a few day-long peaks in the number of new case. The peak has not yet arrived in the province’s long-term care system, where about half of the cases and deaths have occurred.

“Peaks are not a single day,” said Steini Brown, dean of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, as he presented the province’s latest projections on Monday. “They are not a nice kind of unique tip. They can be a bit bumpy, they can be extended for a period of time, especially given public health interventions. “

Brown said that pandemic curves are generally symmetrical in nature – a sharp increase in cases is followed by the plateau or peak, which then gives way to a decline in new diagnoses.

Where is it happening in Canada?

Although Ontario is currently experiencing the peak of community transmission, several provinces are already one step ahead. British Columbia public health officials said last week that they have successfully flattened the curve, which means they have surpassed the peak of new COVID-19 cases. Provinces and territories like Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon post single digit increases every day, while New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador have passed several days in a row with no new cases.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the national curve is curving but has not yet flattened. These figures are still fueled by data from Quebec and Ontario, the epicenters of the national epidemic. The Premier of Quebec, who has recorded more than 20,100 of the approximately 38,000 cases in Canada, said the peak was slightly reached outside of the province’s hard-hit long-term care homes.

This is all good news, right?

Yes and no. Infectious disease doctor and scientist at Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Isaac Bogoch says it is very encouraging to see the rate of new infections start to stabilize. But he says peak times also promise to put maximum pressure on the health care system, as cases continue to increase at a rate never seen in the early stages of the epidemic.

Jianhong Wu, a prominent research professor of mathematics at York University, said that other risks are associated with pandemic peaks.

“At these times, the level of infections is the highest,” he said. “The number of cases is not necessarily the number of infections.”

Wu noted that the disparity is even more evident in regions of the country with lower test levels, noting that provinces with higher capacity will also discover more cases.

During a peak period, he said, Canadians are more likely to contract the virus.

Does this mean that normal life can resume soon?

No. Wu and Bogoch said that physical distance measurements are more important than ever during peak periods to ensure that the number of cases begins to decrease as expected.

“Imagine you’re in a car and you’re stepping on gas and driving faster and faster,” said Bogoch. “When you get on the highway and drive 100 kilometers an hour, now is not the time to open the door and jump out of the car. You really have to slow down. “

What are the most useful statistics to watch?

According to Bogoch and Wu, the many facts and figures presented in government briefings are all invaluable in tracking Canada’s response to COVID-19. But for a member of the public who wants to focus only on the highlights, he agrees that tracking the rate of case growth over time should provide an adequate snapshot. The two warn against focusing on single-day statistics and suggest examining the overall trend to see if cases are increasing, peaking, or decreasing over time.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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