Archaic paper records submitted by fax hold up real-time COVID-19 data

with No Comments
Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam arrives for a daily news conference on Parliament Hill, on May 11, 2020 in Ottawa. ADRIAN WYLD/CANADIAN PRESS

(Laura Ossman/ Canadian Press) — The old-fashioned way Canada records deaths means the country could be missing out on data important to addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

The confirmed number of COVID-19 deaths – about 4,900 across Canada as of Monday afternoon – represents people who have tested positive for the viral disease.

Experts suggest that may not tell the whole story.

Testing protocols vary province to province, making confirmed cases an imperfect measure of the true impact of the virus.

Comparing the total number of deaths to previous years could offer a better insight, and the government is working with Statistics Canada to gather and analyze that information.

But according to Laura Rosella, an associate professor of public health at the University of Toronto, it’s difficult to get the data quickly enough for it to be useful in Canada.

“The way we gather death information is quite archaic,” said Rosella, who also serves as the scientific director for the university’s Population Health Analytics Laboratory. (…)

read full story