At the verge of the second coronavirus outpouring in Canada, the pandemic is not coming up in the manner it was witnessed in the first phase last spring.
This time governments are not caught unaware. They rather are well prepared and well equipped with efficient medical staff and almost all the tools available in the Hospitals. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) this time is more effective and well suited for the job. The mask wearing habits and culture has improved positively.
Yet the unfortunate thing is the constant rise of the case across Canada. In the midst of all this, it is rightly believed that due to the increase in the number of covid-19 test carried out, the number of case will also rise, which will of course be alarming and intimidating, “what’s happening now is not the same as what happened back in March,” said Dr. Sumontra Chakrabarti, who is a well-renowned infectious diseases physician at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont.
“We’re seeing much more of the iceberg than we did back in the spring,” he told.
“But it’s better for us to look at trends, not just the daily numbers. … Even if part of these numbers is coming from increased testing, we need to assume that it is not looking great.”
As there is “absolutely” a direct connection between increased testing and increased number of cases, it’s one of the many metrics which helps to comprehend the outspread and expansion of the virus in Canada, as was told by Theresa Tam, who is Canada’s top public health official.
“The more you test, the more you’re going to find,” she stated. “But it’s just one dimension. … There are definitely more cases occurring as well.”
“Something like 400 may have been more like 1,500 or 2,000,” he said. “We were likely missing a lot of them.”
At the very start of the global pandemic, the testing capacity was so short ranged and week that mostly people were refused when they would request a covid test—even the mildly symptomatic, according to Alon Vaisman, a well-known physician at the University Health Network in Toronto.
“It wasn’t until early June that they pretty much started testing anyone who wanted a test,” he told.
“The likely scenario is yes, we were missing people in April, and yes, we are counting a lot of people now. But it doesn’t tell the whole story,” Vaisman added.
Daily counts of the suspect and confirmed cases are the easiest to know, said Vaisman, stating that they these are the source and data for the far-reaching headlines in the paper and electronic media.
How hospitalization rates factor in
Tam admitted that hospitalization rates are gradually but speedily increasing in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, which indicate the national modeling of recent time a few weeks ago.
“Even if it were true that testing is now picking up a lot more people, primarily asymptomatic people, we wouldn’t see an increase in hospitalizations if that were only the case,” he added.
“In the UHN, for example, we had 10 to 11 people hospitalized this past week, and the week before that we had seven or eight.” He added.
“These spikes in cases are not all made equal,” Vaisman said.
“So, 400 people getting sick in April might be older people in long term care homes, whereas people getting COVID in September may be young people, and that’s why hospitalizations aren’t really up to where they were before.”
Why the positive test rate matters
That it is better to keep the numbers of cases on the minimum, Chakrabarti said—around one to five per cent.
“The higher that number is, the more likely you are missing cases,” he said. “It peaked in the summer at over 10 per cent. That’s indicative of us likely missing tons of cases.”
Still time to act
Giving details about the provinces and regions that are suspecting and anticipating a high rise in cases, Tam told clearly that “we have to act now.”
Large indoor gatherings have been a particular driver
In Canada the driving force behind this rise is the culture of large indoor gatherings for various purposes. While some provinces have controlled the tendency and discouraged it, the theory it’s just a “rally of young people at keggers” is not valid to the purpose, Chakrabarti told.
Weddings, cultural events, sporting events, he said, are the occasions and factors which are not easy to be targeted.
“With these types of interventions, they always feel like they should’ve been done yesterday,” he stated.
“Could things have been done earlier? Sure. But there’s still time to turn it around, especially because we haven’t seen a deluge of cases hitting our hospitals across the country.”
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