Scientists tracking the growth of a pandemic say some figures provided by public health officials tell us more about the spread of the novel coronavirus from the other.
Daniel Coombs said the number of people hospitalized told him where COVID-19 was in a community, province or across the country.
The mathematics professor at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Applied Mathematics said the figures best show daily status COVID-19.
The number of new positive tests and reports of how many people have recovered are less important, said Coombs, who also conducted research on prevention of overdoses during an ongoing outbreak of illegal opioid overdoses.
“From all the statistics reported, I might give the least weight to the recovery rate,” he said in a recent interview. “This is good information. The numbers that I really notice right now are the number of people in the hospital, and the number of people in the intensive care unit and the number of deaths. “
He said the people in the hospital were the exact number of patients who had contracted COVID-19, adding that the number associated with testing was not as strong as there were more variables involved.
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Junling Ma from the University of Victoria’s mathematics and statistics department said that recovery rates were likely to be seen by the public as fun, but scientists looked at the data differently.
Ma, who studies the spread of infectious diseases in the population, said the daily number of victims from new cases provided information, but this was out of date.
“The figures now are not sufficiently related to new cases today,” Ma said, adding the daily case updates came from people who were infected two weeks ago.
Ontario’s public health official reported Monday a total of 4,347 cases and added 13 deaths to a total of 132. There were 589 people in the hospital.
Quebec has 8,580 confirmed cases, 121 deaths and 533 in hospitals.
SM has 1,266 confirmed cases with 140 people in hospital and 39 deaths.
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Two dozen people died in Alberta, which has 1,348 confirmed cases.
In total, Canada had 16,666 who reported COVID-19 cases on Monday, with more than 3,600 cases registered as resolved.
Ma and Coombs say the numbers for people registered with COVID-19 are not as helpful as some other numbers because not everyone is being tested. But inpatient data provided the actual number of heads, they said.
In recent days, those receiving hospital care in BC have not surged, indicating provincial self-isolation and physical distance measures might slow the spread of COVID-19, Coombs said.
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“What we are afraid of is seeing any exponential growth associated with diseases in the province,” he said. “I feel like hospitalization and ICU numbers are very important information and may be ignored by everyone who focuses on the number of new cases.”
Bonnie Henry, a health worker in the province of British Columbia, praised luck and lessons from other provinces for initial restrictive measures that appear to have helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
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SM learned from Quebec and Ontario, where spring break began two weeks earlier and travelers unknowingly brought the disease back with them, he said.
“A lot of work was done from the start,” added Henry. “Some of it is a system that we have for detecting cases in our community, some of it is luck, and I’m sure part of it is time.”
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