April 3, 2020 / 5:11 PM / 4 months ago

Canada's Ontario warns coronavirus cases will soar without further distancing measures

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ontario health officials on Friday projected 80,000 coronavirus cases in the province, Canada’s most heavily populated region, by April 30 under current public health measures and urged people to restrict their movements.

The officials said the new coronavirus would kill 1,600 people by the end of the month, under current policies. With “full future intervention,” that figure would be 200, they said at a news briefing.

Ontario has reported 3,255 confirmed cases and 67 deaths.

The province estimated that under a “best case” scenario, current intensive care unit (ICU) capacity to care for patients with the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the virus could run out in early April.

But with 900 additional beds that are planned and could be quickly available if needed, the province should have enough ICU capacity even as the current wave of infections peaks as projected in late April, the officials said.

Public Health Ontario President Peter Donnelly projected there would be between 3,000 to 15,000 deaths over the full course of the pandemic, which he said could run between 18 to 24 months.

Donnelly and other health officials urged people to maintain physical distancing and stay indoors. He also recommended further limiting what are considered essential workplaces and the imposing of more fines for those who ignore recommendations.

“We need to bear down,” Donnelly said. “There is no dilemma between saving lives and saving the economy. Bearing down hard now achieves both things.”

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot

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