Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

‘Excess deaths’ likely to spike along with coronavirus 2nd wave: StatCan

As coronavirus cases are rising across Canada, so too are “excess deaths,” according to new data released by Statistics Canada.

Excess mortality reflects data on the number of deaths that exceed what is considered normal during a given period. Throughout the pandemic, some countries have used this as an indicator that the actual death toll related to coronavirus is much higher than official tallies.

The provisional data, released Wednesday, suggests that the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 by public health authorities largely aligns with official death statistics.

Between March and June, public health offices across the country reported 8,145 deaths attributable to COVID-19, about five per cent more (7,755) than figures from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database, which is the official source of data on deaths in Canada.

While still considered high, Statistics Canada said deaths fell back to normal levels — “that would be expected had there not been a pandemic” — by July.

However, things began to look grim again by early fall.

In the first 10 days of October alone, the number of COVID-19 deaths reported by the Public Health Agency of Canada was higher than the monthly totals reported in the entire months of August and September.

“Overall, if the similarities between public health surveillance figures and official death data persist through the resurgence of cases, Canada will likely experience an increase in excess deaths in October,” StatCan said in the report.

Canada is in the midst of what is being considered the second wave of the coronavirus, with daily case counts rising in nearly all provinces — some higher than in the spring.

Over the past two weeks, daily case count records have been broken in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

On Tuesday, Canada’s death toll surpassed 10,000. The country’s total number of coronavirus infections now stands above 222,600.

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