Model shows how many travelers infected with COVID-19 could arrive at the U.S. border in Ontario


As the United States continues to face an influx of new cases of the novel coronavirus, many are wondering when the Canada-U.S. Border could possibly reopen to non-essential travel.In a series of tweets on Friday, Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, provided an illustration of the number of travelers infected with COVID-19 who could arrive at the Canada-U.S. Border in Ontario, based on rates of infection in the United States. and how many travelers cross in total.

The model offers a glimpse of how far the number of coronavirus cases in the United States would need to drop to safely reopen the border.

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In the tweets, Tuite said that currently the number of people crossing the Canada-U.S. Border into Ontario is low, likely less than 1,000 to 5,000 per day.

On Saturday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 74,818 new cases of COVID-19.

Tuite said if Ontario saw a thousand travelers per day at the U.S. border, about two of those people would be infected with COVID-19.

“And then if you increase that number to 10,000 travelers every day, we would expect an average of 17 people to arrive infected with COVID,” Tuite told Global News.

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She said about a third of those cases would be symptomatic when they arrived at the border.

“So the ones you could identify just by checking the border and asking people to identify that they have symptoms,” she said.

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The other two-thirds of cases are believed to be either in the incubation period, or presymptomatic or asymptomatic.

“And for those cases, the biggest control we have is quarantine,” Tuite explained.

Currently, anyone entering Canada must comply with a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

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Those arriving in the country who are unable to prove they have a workable isolation plan will be taken by officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada to a facility to do so.

Should Canadians be concerned about the increase in COVID-19 cases south of the border?

Should Canadians be concerned about the increase in COVID-19 cases south of the border?

Tuite said if people play by the rules, infected travelers “shouldn’t be a problem.”

“The challenge is that if they don’t adhere to these quarantine measures, then any of these cases could potentially trigger a small outbreak,” she explained.

In the series of tweets, Tuite wrote that once the burden of cases in the United States decreases to between 1,000 and 10,000 infections per day, Canada can ease border restrictions while keeping the number of imported cases at a low level.

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But, she says, it’s “really hard to predict” when that might be.

Tuite said in April and May that it looked like things could be under control in the United States, but the country is once again experiencing a spike in new cases.

“So I don’t think you can really put a timeline on it,” she said.

For now, Tuite said she believes it is safer for the border to remain closed to non-essential travelers.

«This [model] look at the number of reported cases every day, ”she said. “Multiply that over a month and you’re talking about lots of potential cases coming in,” she says.

“And even with a good adherence to quarantine and screening, you only need one or two of these cases to fail to comply, to potentially be associated with a super spread event and really trigger an outbreak a lot.” more important, ”she continued.

Should Canadians Travel?

In a previous interview with Global News, Colin Furness, infection control epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, said travel should be kept to a minimum as much as possible, with no exceptions for any type of tourism.

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He said that beyond just keeping the border closed to Americans, Canadians should not come and go as they please.

“We shouldn’t have this,” he said. “It’s not just about keeping Americans out if we’re going to make things better,” he said.

“Canadians should not leave the country for tourism or business travel.”

Peak of American cases

The United States remained the epicenter of the virus on Sunday.

According to a Johns Hopkins University count, as of noon ET on Sunday, there were more than 4.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.

The virus has claimed 146,484 lives in the United States so far

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The federal government announced that the country’s border with the United States will be closed to all non-essential travel in March.

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Last week, the two countries agreed to keep their shared borders closed to non-essential traffic until at least August 21.

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Majority of Canadians surveyed want US border closed until the end of 2020: Ipsos

And it appears that an overwhelming majority of Canadians support the move. A poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News earlier this month found that 85% of Canadians said they wanted to keep the Canada-U.S. Border closed until at least. at the end of 2020. The survey also suggested that anxiety surrounding travel is high. 93% of survey respondents said they thought it would be “too risky” to travel to the United States this summer.–With files from Global News reporters Olivia Bowden and Maryam Shah

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