Quebec could see between 1,263 and 8,860 deaths by the end of April because of the novel coronavirus pandemic even amid sweeping measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, according to projections from the province’s public health officials.
The two scenarios about the potential course of the virus in Quebec were released on Tuesday afternoon as the government fights to limit the scope of the outbreak. The projections show that the peak could be around April 18.
In the best-case scenario, there will be an estimated 29,212 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, by the end of the month. Quebec could see up to 59,845 cases at worst.
The optimistic modelling is based on Portugal and Germany’s experiences with the novel coronavirus, while the pessimistic scenario is based on the situation unfolding in hard-hit Italy.
Public health officials in Quebec have been reluctant to provide precise figures and dates. However, they say province will likely fall somewhere between the two scenarios and much closer to the best-case projection.
Dr. Richard Massé, a medical adviser with public health, said that the pandemic is evolving and that it is “extremely difficult” to know exactly what the future holds. That is why possible scenarios are only being provided for April.
“We are giving you the reality of where we are right now and we’re giving you the best indicators of where we’re heading by the end of April,” he said.
When it comes to physical-distancing measures, Massé said that those rules will likely be in place for a long time but that they will be progressively eased.
Earlier in the day, the province’s premier said he didn’t want the public to be alarmed over the potential number of deaths listed in the scenarios.
François Legault also admitted Quebec could be close to reaching its peak but warned the battle is far from over. The novel coronavirus has led to 150 fatalities and 9,340 cases in the province as of Tuesday.
“If we want to progressively return to a normal life in May, it’s important to stay very disciplined during the month of April,” said Legault.
There are 583 hospitalizations linked to the illness. Legault said it is good news that the number of patients in intensive care, 164, has not changed since Monday.
Legault said the province’s priority is to protect vulnerable Quebecers, including the elderly. He said that more doctors and nurses will be added to long-term and seniors residences, where there are cases.
The province has been working tirelessly to contain the spread of the disease for the past three weeks. Quebec remains under a partial lockdown, with schools and non-essential businesses closed until at least May.
Quebecers are also being asked to stay home as much as possible during the coming weeks, and gatherings have been banned.
As part of the restrictions, police are cracking down on physical-distancing violations. A handful of regions are also off limits to non-essential travel.
— With files from Global News’ Annabelle Olivier and the Canadian Press