‘The window for action is right now’: U of T epidemiologist on the effectiveness of social distancing

March 18/2020

As the new coronavirus continues to spread, authorities around the world are encouraging people to limit their contact with others in an effort to stem the tide.

On Tuesday, for example, Ontario declared a state of emergency and announced 11 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 180. Alberta also declared a public health emergency.

Ashleigh Tuite, an assistant professor in the epidemiology division of the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, has worked with fellow U of T epidemiologist Professor David Fisman on mathematical models illustrating the importance of “flattening the curve” to reduce the burden on the health-care system.

The disease-transmission models shouldn’t be seen as exact predictions, but as guides to how countries can curb the number of cases and interrupt chains of transmission to make the virus’s impact more manageable.

In an interview with U of T News, Tuite said the window for social distancing is narrow and stressed the need to take action before the outbreak gets out of hand.

Read the Q&A here