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New COVID-19 projections show how physical distancing can make a huge difference in Ottawa

Researchers from The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, in partnership with Ottawa Public Health, have created a new interactive Ottawa COVID-19 Opens in new window website, that predicts various scenarios around the number of hospitalizations and deaths in Ottawa due to COVID-19.

“Creating accurate, long-range projections to predict growth of COVID-19 is difficult. It’s akin to forecasting where a hurricane will make landfall when it is still thousands of kilometers out at sea. Forecasts are more accurate for the shorter range,” said Dr. Doug Manuel, who led the team that developed the projections. “But while path of a hurricane can’t be influenced, the worst effects of COVID-19 can be avoided if people follow public health guidelines and stay home.”

“Our projections align with the provincial estimates that project a 97% reduction in deaths with full implementation of physical distancing,” added Dr. Manuel, a physician and senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and distinguished professor at the University of Ottawa, who also holds appointments at Bruyère Research Institute and ICES. “We also include projections for hospital use for Ottawa at different levels of physical distancing.”

The new website will be regularly updated with data from Ottawa Public Health, and will be used by hospitals and other health care facilities in the region to plan resources such as intensive care beds and ventilators.

“Modelling data confirms that we can all make a difference, if we continue to practice physical distancing. The actions we are all taking as a community matter. I am grateful that, for the most part, Ottawa residents acted quickly, and followed public health guidance. There would be more cases of COVID-19 infections in our community if residents had not done their part. We are all in this together, and need to continue our efforts to continue to flatten the curve, and protect our healthcare system”

The predictive modelling approach used by Dr. Manuel and his team for COVID-19 builds on similar approaches developed by other researchers in Ontario and around the world. Dr. Manuel and his team have previously used big data and artificial intelligence to develop several widely-used interactive health calculators, available at the Project Big Life Opens in new window website. The team behind the Ottawa COVID-19 modelling approach includes Warsame Yusuf, Rostyslav Vyuha, Yulric Sequeira and Alan Forster, in addition to Doug Manuel. From the Ottawa Public Health epidemiology team, contributors include Jacqueline Willmore, Amira Ali, and Dara Spatz Friedman.

Media Contact:
Michaela Schreiter

mschreiter@toh.ca