As many as 22,000 Canadians could die of coronavirus, according to newly released federal projections.

After weeks of declining to release projections, the Public Health Agency of Canada published modelling data with different possible scenarios of how many Canadians could die of the coronavirus in the coming months.

The agency laid out its contingencies for strong control measures, weaker response measures, and one with no measures taken.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the objective is to be in the strong control measure camp, which the modelling suggests would result in roughly 11,000 deaths and 22,000 deaths.

In the worst scenario, deaths could spike to more than 100,000.

The agency anticipates 500 to 700 deaths by the end of next week – and indicated that short-term projections are more accurate. 

Tam warned that what happens to Canadians in the coming months depends heavily on how strictly people follow social distancing measures.

Tam emphasized that these estimates are based on the best available data so far and can change.

“Data and models can help Canadians see how our collective efforts … can determine the trajectory of Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tam. “Models are not a crystal ball.”

The agency did not give an indication of when the pandemic will peak in Canada but said control measures like social distancing and travel restrictions need to remain even after the peak.

“It is too early to know how close we are to the peak from a national perspective,” Tam said. “We can’t give up after the peak.”

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