“Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this… That will be a very long way off,” the prime minister said during his daily news conference on Canada’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year,” he added in French.
Trudeau’s comments came just after the release of modelling data that federal health officials have been using to inform Canada’s response to the pandemic.
The models suggested the first wave of the virus could end roughly sometime in the summer, but that further “wavelets” are possible in the following months.
Epidemic controls and surveillance will have to continue over that time so “the chains” of the virus don’t “reignite,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
Canada is developing “tools and habits” now that will allow the country to be “much more resilient and resistant to further outbreaks and spreads,” Trudeau later told reporters.
Even then, “there will be things we just aren’t able to do” for a year to 18 months, he added in French.
The prime minister urged Canadians once again to stay at home and limit their trips outside so the country can get through the first wave of the virus “as quickly as possible.”
While it’s unclear what extended epidemic controls would look like in Canada at this point, analysis by Harvard researchers, released March 27 ahead of peer review, suggested that multiple “intermittent” periods of physical distancing might be a more effective strategy for saving lives than continuing with “strict” distancing measures.
Health officials still aren’t sure where Canada is on the epidemic curve and won’t know when the virus has peaked until after that’s happened, Tam said.