Photo: Graham Hughes The canadian Press
The number of confirmed deaths due to the COVID-19 represents the dead people who have received a screening test positive for the viral disease.
OTTAWA — The somewhat archaic which Canada has yet the death means that important data are beyond probably our decision-makers to deal with the pandemic of COVID-19.
The number of confirmed deaths due to the COVID-19 — about 5050 in Canada Tuesday morning — represent the dead people who have received a screening test positive for the viral disease. However, experts suggest that this table could be quite different.
On the one hand, the testing protocols vary from province to province : the extent of the “confirmed cases” do not therefore reflect the real impact of the sars coronavirus.
In fact, the comparison of the total number of deaths in Canada compared to previous years could provide a better overview, and Ottawa is working with Statistics Canada to collect and analyze this information.
But according to Laura Rosella, associate professor of public health at the University of Toronto, it is difficult in Canada to obtain the data quickly enough for it to be truly useful. “The manner in which we collect the information about the death is quite archaic,” Ms Rosella, who is also scientific director of the Laboratory of analysis of population health at the University of Toronto.
In Canada, when a person dies, a doctor generally meets a death certificate on a paper and fax to the provincial body responsible for the processing of these statistics. This process means that obtaining verified data on the number of people who died in the course of a year can make in fact… several years. In some cases, these data are also supplied by hospitals, or coroners, using different methods, which gives figures divergent — which then must be “reconciled” to be useful.
“Our system is not configured to provide a snapshot of the mortality, in real time,” says the professor Rosella — which doesn’t help much to make governments take informed decisions based on evidence.
The former federal Health minister Jane Philpott, who has been on the front lines in the battle against the COVID-19 at Markham Stouffville hospital, Markham, Ontario, expressed at the end of the week his frustration at the state of data in Canada. “We have fallen behind maddening decades in the techniques of data collection in public health “, wrote Sunday on Twitter dr. Philpott.
Accelerate the collection
In times of a health crisis, governments often try to speed up the collection of data for some causes of death. The administrative head of the public health agency of Canada dr. Theresa Tam, reminds us that this is what happened for example during the crisis of the opioid, while the government was looking for new ways to save overdose deaths.
According to her, Ottawa hopes to use the same methods to obtain a more rapid access to the data on the COVID-19. “We have highlighted some of the gaps in the real-time information on deaths due to the COVID-19 “, admitted dr. Tam at a press conference in Ottawa Monday. “We are doing our best with the provinces to try to see if we can fill these gaps. “
According to the “Health Foundation” in Great Britain, the data in the United Kingdom show an increase in the total number of deaths since march, compared to what could suggest the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. Information on the total number of deaths this year compared to 2019 would also give an overview of some of the other consequences of the pandemic, said dr. Tam.
Also, doctors across the country have observed lower rates of er visits, suggesting that people are perhaps not at the hospital when they need help. “The excess mortality is something that we need to look at the deaths due to the COVID-19 “, stressed dr. Tam.
The comparison of the number of deaths with the previous years is often used, for example, to measure the severity of seasonal flu, are also reminded of the professor Rosella.
We talk about for years to improve the collection of data in Canada, creating a database or a national register, she said. But these improvements require investment — and until now, nothing has been done.
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