Trudeau warns COVID-19 restrictions will be the new normal for months

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said health care systems across the country are coping with the coronarivus crisis, but according to new projections released today by health officials, the peak will likely occur in late spring.

“Modelling shows that COVID-19 arrived in Canada later than other countries. We’re in the earlier stage of outbreak,” he said.

Trudeau emphasized the need for Canadians to remain vigilant, staying home and frequently washing their hands in order to avoid the models’ more grim projections.

“This will be the new normal until a vaccine is developed,” he said.

“It will take months of continued, determined effort.”

The federal government said earlier Thursday it expected the number of Canadians killed by the novel coronavirus to double over the next week.

With strong control measures, the federal public health agency projects that 11,000 to 22,000 Canadians could die of COVID-19 in the coming months. The Public Health Agency of Canada says short-term estimates are more reliable, and it anticipates 500 to 700 deaths by the end of next week.

If stringent measures remain in place, the country’s top public health officer predicted the pandemic could cost at least 4,500 lives over its course.

Without such controls, models indicate as many as 80 per cent of the population could have been infected, and as many as 350,000 could have died.

“We must minimize the population infected… in order to keep deaths, ICU admissions and hospitalizations as low as possible,” Dr. Theresa Tam said earlier this morning.

Tam said it appeared the spread of the virus was moderating and that Canada could bring the epidemic under control by the end of summer if social distancing and the other measures remained in place and were strictly adhered to.

With spotty controls, we could still be battling the tail end of the pandemic a year from now, she said.

Tam pointed out the projections are based on models and aren’t necessarily a crystal ball. But what is clear is that measures will have to stay in place for some time, she said.

More from 620 CKRM