Three weeks or so after Canada largely shut down to try to deal with the novel coronavirus there seem to be many more questions than answers.

Among them: Is the huge social dislocation we’ve undergone helping? Are we starting to get the disease under control? The best place to look for answers is the number of deaths, University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite explains.

“It’s alarming,” she says of the graph below.

“It’s what you expect to see when you have an outbreak that is growing. It suggests, because the cases are lagged, that we are in the middle of the growth phase of an epidemic.”

Of the three ways of measuring the epidemic, ‘deaths’ is probably the best

There are three ways of measuring the outbreak, Tuite explains: positive tests, hospital or ICU admissions, and deaths. 

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Of these, measuring deaths is the most reliable method. 

“There are a number of different data sources that we can look to,” she says. “The reason that people are focusing on deaths is because they tend to be identified the best.”

For a number of reasons,