Canada and the Coronavirus

Hi Guys,

I have been watching all these threads on Coronavirus. I have paid attention to many countries, and the US is the center of attention it seems for most of them, which is cool. I care what happens in the US, but would like a thread to focus on Canada.

I am from Alberta. Currently there are 6320 cases in Canada and 661 cases in Alberta. Although these numbers are smaller than the US, we also have 10 times less the population. In Alberta there have been 42,527 tests completed, which seems like a good start at least. I would say from being here that this province is taking social isolation seriously. Schools have been closed for weeks, and all non-essential businesses are closed. We are asked to stay home. Recently testing has started to emphasize health care workers, over people who had travelled, hopefully those people are now mostly home.

I am not sure why Quebec has surged ahead of other provinces at 2,840 cases. If anyone has a theory, I am listening.

I am watching our growth curves of infections for a sign of flattening. Maybe in a week we will see some results. We have been isolating for close to 2 weeks.

I am not sure what it would take to get people back to work, but I think it would taking testing for everyone, and more than 1 test per person, just because you didn’t have it yesterday, does not mean you won’t get it tomorrow. Also I am very much waiting for the antibody tests which will show if you had an exposure, and maybe did not know it. Then I would feel confident that sick people where reasonably isolated, and we could get on with our lives.

I am fairly happy with the response by local and federal governments. I think they took the issue seriously fairly soon, and I hope we see good results from it. Now back to watching Trump blow his own horn.

Although I don’t live in Canada presently, I have friends and family scattered around the country. I listen to CBC radio and get news updates almost on a daily basis. Please stay safe!

From what I understand, each province has their own protocol in counting COVID-19 cases. In Quebec’s case, it used to be that positives at the designated testing centres needed to be confirmed by the provincial Public Health Laboratory before they could be counted as an affirmative. The day they dropped that second confirmation requirement was when Quebec started getting a huge spike of cases.

Also, Quebec’s spring break is at the beginning of March. Most other provinces start spring break from mid to late March. While other school districts were just getting shut down, Quebec students were travelling to places like Florida and Europe, now known hotbeds for the coronavirus. Quebec has concentrated a lot of their testing efforts to those travelers since they would have had enough incubation time to have symptoms show up.

I believe the numbers we’re seeing now is an amalgamation of those factors.

In any case, each province, (and each country for that matter), have different testing protocols and procedures so it makes across-the-board comparisons very difficult.

Until the virus is under control, everyone stays safe at home is the best choice

It is the second most populous province. Even if the disease was equally distributed you would expect it would have the second most number of cases. The province also has the second largest city. Large, densely populated, cities are an anti-social distancing environment where day to day behavior before controls were implemented would generally result in higher transmission. Those cities also tend to be draws for tourism bringing in more potential infected individuals. Ontario is the largest province with the largest city so that is not enough to account for Quebec being first. We should expect Quebec to be relatively high though.

Both Ontario and Quebec have border crossings with the US state with our highest infection counts, New York. Saturn Dreams points out some important issues. Some spring breakers in Quebec may have taken shorter international trips that put them in some of the riskiest places on the continent at about the worst time possible.

Then there is just sheer random chance. A few more early cases can make a big difference in the counts a couple weeks later. Some people follow routines that bring them into contact, before controls were implemented, with more people than average. If they are one of the early cases community transmission gets a jump start.

There’s also the tendency for Quebec snowbirds to go to Florida for the winter. They’ve likely all returned home by now, and some brought the virus with them from Florida.

Thank you for the well thought out answers about Quebec’s higher numbers Saturn Dreams and DinoR. What you suggest makes perfect sense. I had watched Quebec’s number’s spike, and it seemed odd to me.

One youtuber I watch (thunderfoot) suggested this virus be called something like the Air Pandemic, because the hotspots match perfectly with a diagram of international air routes. We would not have this as a pandemic without a high level of air travel. I expect that is also why cases in Alberta are concentrated in Calgary where I live, as we have an international airport.

The Wikipedia page on the coronavirus outbreak in Canada is a good source, with data being updated regularly from reliable sources. There’s also sub-pages for some of the individual provinces and territories.

Only jurisdiction not reporting any infections is Nunavut. No surprise, given its isolation.

Mikemike2, the wiki page has a map showing cases per million, broken down by public health region. It’s a few days out of date, but it confirms your suggestion. The hotspots are all in areas where there are international airports.

Thanks for that resource page, Northern Piper, I am looking at it now.

To play a bit of a devil’s advocate – how well do those same two maps match up to a simple population density map?

The image is from the US, but a relevant XKCD comic.

International airports are typically sited where the population is highest. Disease transmission is also highest where population is highest, which is also where testing will be highest. It’s not a coincidence that the most populous places have the highest incidence of known cases and also have international airports.

ETA: Sniped!

If you haven’t bookmarked the government site, you should. It’s updated daily.

I mentioned in another thread that I thought Trudeau was doing a good job leading on this. I stand by that, and also think Doug Ford is performing very well too. It’s nice to hear Ford praising Trudeau.

Not that well actually, for Canada. For example, St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, is a pretty low population density area, but is showing quite high on the cases per million map. St John’s is a main air terminal for cross-Atlantic flights.

And in Alberta, Edmonton and Calgary are the two main cities, with roughly equal populations, but Calgary is showing much higher on the cases per million map. One difference is that Calgary is the headquarters and regional hub for WestJet, while Edmonton is more of a “spoke” for WestJet.

As Saturn Dreams points out, Quebec’s March break is a week earlier. They got a seven day head start on travellers spreading the virus around, and a seven day head start on people showing symptoms.

This is really important, because it’s not just that they’ve had a week or two extra for the problem to grow; it was a week in which the full measures of social distancing and workplace shutdown weren’t being enforced. No one was really doing anything about it, so the virus was being passed around much more easily.

Calgary is also one of only 4 airports allowing international flights to arrive. But based on that government website, has Canada managed to ‘flatten the curve’?

My understanding is that when we see new cases reported, it actually reflects people who were infected 2 weeks or so ago, as that is the incubation period. As we have been in social isolation for about 2 weeks, I will look for signs of flattening this week.

Yesterday only 41 new cases were reported in my province, we will see what today at 3:30 pm brings.

As an interesting aside, many people think Alberta’s chief medical officer making the announcements, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, is pretty hot in a nerdy way. She does an excellent job in explaining our situation in a calm but direct manor. She wore a top with the periodic table of the elements printed on it, and that top was put back into production.

How is social isolating going in your province?

I agree. Both are doing a good job and are a good example of non-partisan cooperation. I note from those graphs that the total number of cases in Canada appears to have just plateaued, while the number of new cases appears to have been dropping since around March 20, but I see from the footnote that the recent shaded area represents a recent period that may include a lot of yet-unreported cases.

What does her physical appearance have to do with anything?

Some jackass reporter was trying to get them to fight over the carbon tax, getting a call through to both their press conferences this morning. I’m rather impressed Ford didn’t take the bait.

I dunno, it created a news story, it brought a top design back into production, I thought it was interesting.