The new coronavirus has been spreading quickly in Canada, with known cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, soaring toward 1,000.
How many are really out there? It’s impossible to tell since not everybody who may have the new coronavirus gets tested and not all cases show symptoms.
Here are the known cases so far:
When you look at their share of the population, Canadians between 50 and 70 appear to be more likely to have been diagnosed with the disease and those under 19 much less likely.
(In Italy, the elderly have made up the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 deaths.)
There are two cautions with the data, though. One is that we have age data for less than half of the Canadians with a COVID-19 diagnosis. The other is that many people with no reason to seek out medical attention turn out to be carrying the virus. In Iceland, which is testing on an ambitious scale, about half of people with positive tests showed no symptoms.
Here is an age breakdown of cases for which we know the age, along with their proportion of the overall population:
Though No. 3 in population, British Columbia leads the country in absolute numbers of cases, as we see in this graph of cases in high-population provinces:
However, that conceals how badly B.C. has been hit. If you adjust for population, it’s by far the worst-off province, followed by Alberta.
On Thursday, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged British Columbians to take social distancing much more seriously.
“This is not optional,” she said, noting that B.C. has the legal authority to enforce the measures if needed.
“Everybody needs to take these actions now. This is what’s going to protect us for the next few weeks. It’s going to protect ourselves, it’s going to protect our families, it’s going to protect our communities.”
Here’s what it looks like if you adjust for population differences:
So far, Canada has had only 10 coronavirus deaths. Italy, by contrast, has had thousands.
Taken at face value, the chart implies that Canada is more or less where Italy was about three weeks ago. We must hope that that’s not literally the case, though, since Italy is now recording over 400 deaths a day. Adjusting for population, that would be over 200 deaths a day in Canada.
This week, Italian authorities had to use military convoys to move coffins for cremation in centres that had more ability to cope.
Experts who spoke to Global News pointed to differences in the Canadian and Italian situations, which include a much higher proportion of elderly people in Italy and the fact that Italy had less warning and time to prepare.
Here, so far, are the Canadian and Italian infection curves, adjusted for population differences:
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