An increase in the rate of mobility or movement of people outside their homes in Canada by 10% correlated with a 25% jump in weekly growth rates of Covid-19 infections, according to a study published Wednesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
The study was conducted by researchers from Ontario Public Health, University of Toronto, St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Canadian Research Center, Women’s Hospital and the Canadian Health Agency.
Published as Canada faces its third wave of coronavirus crisis, 6,151 new cases were reported on Wednesday, an increase of 63% in the last 14 days, bringing the total number of infections to 1,027,050, while 23,171 deaths have been recorded so far.
The study used anonymized data on smartphones, along with that in cases related to the Covid-19 pandemic in Canada in the time period from March 15, 2020 to March 6 this year.
“This study shows that mobility strongly predicts the growth rate of Sars-CoV-2 to three weeks in the future and that rigorous measures will be needed until the spring of 2021 in Canada,” lead author Dr. Kevin Brown, an epidemiologist of infectious diseases from Public Health Ontario, wrote, together with the co-authors of the research.
The researchers based their findings on a mobility threshold metric or level needed to control the spread of coronavirus and mobility gaps.
“Mobility strongly and consistently predicts weekly growth in cases, and low levels of mobility are needed to control Sars-CoV-2 by spring 2021,” the authors wrote. They also noted that the mobility metrics they measured “can be used by public health officials and governments to assess the level of constraints needed to control the spread of Sars-CoV-2 and to guide real-time implementation and intensity of nonpharmaceutical public health interventions to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. . “
The authors also noted that such interventions “remain the primary means of control” of Covid-19 as long as “vaccination coverage is not sufficient to achieve herd immunity.”
With a sharp rise in cases, Canada’s largest province of Ontario announced home detention orders that went into effect on Thursday, while other provinces also introduced more restrictive measures to fight the deadly virus.