What’s Canada’s true coronavirus death toll? Here’s why it’s hard to say

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Across the world, the number of deaths has risen noticeably more than official novel coronavirus death tolls can account for.

In the U.K., for example, there are 50,000 more deaths than is normal at this time of year, though only 32,000 of those are classified as coronavirus deaths.

The reasons mostly seem to have to do with the fact that not all deaths caused by the coronavirus are accounted for that way and that some are caused indirectly: for example, people with heart attacks may die because they’re avoiding hospitals.

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Is something similar true in Canada? Statistics Canada tried to answer the question in a release on Wednesday, but slow and antiquated death reporting systems in some provinces make it hard to get any meaning from the data, an expert says.

“This is a story about how bad the data is, no question,” says Colin Furness of the University of Toronto.

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The data, which covers eight provinces, compares deaths by the week in early 2019 and early 2020.

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The results vary wildly: Alberta appears to have 374 “excess deaths” in the first three months of the year,

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