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Coronavirus: How long can Canadians expect to be social distancing?

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For weeks, health officials across the country have been urging Canadians to practise social distancing and avoid public gatherings in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The disease caused by the virus — COVID-19 — has infected more than 201,000 people worldwide and killed over 8,000.

In Canada, as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 569 people had been infected with COVID-19 and eight people had died.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday echoed the advice of health authorities, urging Canadians to practise social distancing, saying the window to control the spread of the disease was closing.

“As much as possible, stay home,” he said. “Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to.”

But how long can Canadians expect to be practising social distancing and is it effective?

Here’s what experts say.

Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in emerging viruses at the University of Manitoba, said we can expect this to go on until we see a decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“What we need to see is that new cases are decreasing over time, but we also want to be conscious that loosening of the social distancing recommendations and restrictions too quickly could result in a resurgence of transmission,” he wrote in an email to Global News.

He said recent models have predicted long periods of time for this outbreak, some greater than 12 months.

“However, there have been arguments that these models don’t take into account additional factors that are implemented to curb transmission,” he wrote.

He said ultimately, there is no “definitive timeline” as the situation will “continue to be dynamic and based on overall trends that can’t be defined within very short periods of time.”

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