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Newfoundland and Labrador Health Minister John Haggie in Winnipeg on June 28, 2018.

John Woods/The Canadian Press

Models projecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Newfoundland and Labrador suggest cases could peak around mid-November and ICU bed capacity could be exceeded by mid-July if current preventive measures remain in place.

That scenario, run by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, looked at the possibility that 32 per cent of the population would be infected with COVID-19 over two years.

Health Minister John Haggie, Premier Dwight Ball and Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, addressed the province by video on Wednesday along with Dr. Proton Rahman, a clinical scientist and professor of medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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The presentations showed that, even with a rapid rise in cases over the last month due to a cluster that spread from a funeral home, the curve of the outbreak has been flattening over the last week.

It’s now similar to other provinces such as British Columbia, suggesting public health measures like contact tracing and non-essential service shutdowns have been effective so far.

The funeral home cluster, which represents 75 per cent of the province’s known cases, created a challenge for modelling, officials said.

Two people have died from COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador, making the sample too small to project for a possible number of deaths.

In the short term, the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information projects that under current measures, a “best case” scenario would see approximately 25 hospitalizations due to the illness by April 30.

In a “worst case” scenario, without public health measures, approximately 200 people would be hospitalized by April 30. Both scenarios are manageable with the province’s current bed capacity, the projections note.

Projections related to ICU beds, which looked at 57 of 98 ICU beds as available, predicted that a best-case scenario would see about 10 patients occupying intensive care beds by April 30.

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In a worst-case scenario, the province would exceed its ICU capacity by the same date, with approximately 65 people in ICU beds with COVID-19.

Assuming 32 per cent of the population contracts the illness, the Canadian Institute for Health Information predicts that Newfoundland and Labrador will need more ICU beds by July.

However, the same model predicted the province would stay within its acute care and ventilator capacity over the next year.

Another scenario, in which 51 per cent of the population contracts COVID-19, cases would peak in September, ventilator supply would be exceeded by mid-July and ICU capacity would be exceeded in mid-June. Acute care needs would exceed capacity in July in that scenario.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the second-highest number of infections per capita across Canadian provinces and territories, after Quebec, according to the presentation that used numbers from Tuesday.

Among the 17 people hospitalized, six have gone into the ICU.

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The province reported four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total to 232.

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