More than 70% of Canadians could catch coronavirus

Model developed by University of Toronto researchers suggests ‘huge number of people’ could fall ill

More than 70% of Canadians could catch coronavirus

Almost three fourths of the Canadian population could get infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to a new disease-transmission model.

Based on a model developed by researchers at the University of Toronto, the coronavirus could make “a huge number of people ill,” many critically. In the absence of public health interventions, its overall attack rate in Canada is estimated to surpass 70%.

In a report by the Vancouver Sun, epidemiologist and model co-creator Dr. David Fisman said that the number can be cut by half “if we add modest control,” though reducing it further would require “aggressive social distancing and large scale quarantines.”

Modest control measures in Canada would involve identifying and isolating about half of mild cases through testing, but no social distancing or quarantine.

“That’s still a huge number of people ill, and critically ill people are a large fraction in this disease,” Fisman reportedly said in an email to the Sun.

As of March 10, the federal government has logged 79 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, including 36 in Ontario; 32 in British Columbia; four in Quebec; and seven in Alberta. A man in his 80s who had underlying health problems became the first fatality claimed by the virus when he passed away Sunday night.

Another recent report from Fisman’s team, which has had experience dealing with SARS, H1N1, and Ebola, noted that the extent of the outbreak in Iran exceeds initial announced figures. Aside from basic reproduction numbers — the number of people likely to catch the virus from an infected individual — their model estimates how many mild and asymptomatic cases could be going undetected.

“China’s epidemic was controlled through massive quarantine, enforced via threats of death penalty, and with lockdown of 750,000 people at peak,” Fisman noted.

Travel restrictions and a ban on public gatherings have been imposed across Italy, where a spike in the death toll from 366 to 463 on Monday reinforced its status as the worst-hit country outside of China. Public gatherings have also been limited in South Korea, which has confirmed over 7,300 coronavirus infections and more than 50 deaths.

As the virus continues to make itself felt around the world, some Canadian insurance providers are imposing new limitations to the coverage they offer. According to a report by Global News, Manulife and Tugo have stopped offering regular trip cancellation insurance, citing the fact that COVID-19 is now considered a “known” event.