Mississauga PhD candidate creates website that shows we’re flattening the COVID-19 curve in Canada

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Earlier this week, public health officials announced that Ontario has reached the peak (at least in terms of community transmission) in COVID-19 cases and is slowly but surely "flattening the curve."

While we've all heard about the need to "flatten the curve", one Mississauga resident is working to demonstrate exactly what flattening the curve looks like and how well we're doing when it comes to curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Advait Hasabnis, a PhD candidate who is studying chemistry at the University of Toronto—Mississauga (UTM), recently launched a COVID-19 in Canada website that shows a series of graphs that demonstrate Canada's curve-flattening progress.

"My project has become popular in the last week as the 'Are We Flattening The Curve?' section resonates with visitors because it shows the results of our collective efforts and the lockdown, and gives hope since we are indeed flattening the curve," Hasabnis told insauga.com.

Graph from April 23

The website, which is updated daily, offers a snapshot of the country's COVID-19 containment efforts. It also showcases data from individual provinces and territories. 

According to the website, Hasabnis launched the project after he realized there was no single source available that provided a comprehensive snapshot of national cases, testing and hospitalization rates, in addition to provincial breakdowns and with the latest data. 

He says he's been collecting Canadian case data since the start of the pandemic. 

"I wanted to build an informative website with clear and interactive charts. That’s how this website was born and has continued to improve based on feedback from all the visitors," he writes. 

Hasabnis says the site shows something else—that strict physical distancing measures are indeed working. 

"I look at the doubling time in days. Initially, cases were doubling roughly every three days. Over the last four days, our cases are doubling every 14 days. That means what we're doing is working."

The most recent graph, updated on April 23, shows that cases are now doubling every 15 days. 

As of April 23, 41,752 COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Canada. The data shows that 2,503 people are hospitalized, with 515 patients being treated in ICUs. So far, 2,141 people have died of the disease, while 14,672 people have made full recoveries. 

As of April 23, 649,000 Canadians have been tested for COVID-19. 

Much like other experts, Hasabnis says that we're seeing a very different situation in long-term care homes and other congregate settings, where cases—and deaths—are increasing. 

"I think we need to separate data between long-term care home and general population spread. We might not have reached the peak in long-term care settings," he says. 

As far as Ontario goes, Hasabnis' website says that initially, cases were doubling every 3.9 days. Now, cases are doubling every 14 days.  

Ontario data from April 23

Hasabnis says his site has been generating some interest.

"I've been getting quite a bit of response," he says. "It's been getting popular. Some partners want to collaborate with me." 

Ontario data from April 23

As for whether or not governments will be able to relax physical distancing measures soon, Hasabnis says it's hard to say when life will begin to return to normal, but that the country is making progress.

"I'm not an epidemiologist, so can't say how long. If we keep flattening the curve, maybe we can start relaxing the measures," he says.

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