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Coronavirus: How COVID-19 is spreading across Canada

Coronavirus outbreak: A timeline of how COVID-19 spread around world
Coronavirus outbreak: A timeline of how COVID-19 spread around world.

Charts updated March 31, 8:30 a.m. ET

The new coronavirus has been spreading quickly in Canada..

How many are really out there? It’s impossible to tell since not everybody who may have the virus 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.)

READ MORE: Live updates — Coronavirus in Canada

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There are two cautions with the data, though. One is that we have age data for roughly 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.

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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 is roughly equal with Ontario in absolute numbers of cases, as we see in this graph of cases in high-population provinces:

In recent days, Quebec has had Canada’s highest rate of positive tests.

Last Thursday, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged British Columbians to take social distancing much more seriously.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Montreal has close to 50% of Quebec’s COVID-19 cases

“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.”

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Here’s what it looks like if you adjust for population differences:

READ MORE: Italian mayors concerned coronavirus death toll doesn’t tell whole story

Something else to bear in mind, though, is that provinces and territories test at very different rates. As Iceland found, the more you test, the more you find.

So far, Canada has had a few dozen coronavirus deaths. Italy, by contrast, has had thousands.

Here, so far, are the Canadian and Italian infection curves, adjusted for population differences:

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 600 deaths a day. Adjusting for population, that would be over 300 deaths a day in Canada.

Families of COVID-19 patients share what they’ve endured
Families of COVID-19 patients share what they’ve endured

Last week, Italian authorities had to use military convoys to move coffins for cremation in centres that had more ability to cope.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Here’s where Canada is on the curve

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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.