Canadians won't be able to return to life as they knew it before the novel coronavirus pandemic until a vaccine is available, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

"Normality as it was before will not come back full-on until we get a vaccine for this... That will be a very long way off," the prime minister said during his daily news conference on Canada's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"We will have to remain vigilant for at least a year," he added in French.

Trudeau's comments came just after the release of modelling data that federal health officials have been using to inform Canada's response to the pandemic.

The models suggested the first wave of the virus could end roughly sometime in the summer, but that further "wavelets" are possible in the following months.

Comment: Wavelets? Is he freaking kidding?

Epidemic controls and surveillance will have to continue over that time so "the chains" of the virus don't "reignite," said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer.

Canada is developing "tools and habits" now that will allow the country to be "much more resilient and resistant to further outbreaks and spreads," Trudeau later told reporters.

The possible pandemic scenarios are "very sensitive" to people's actions, the country's top doctor underscored.

If Canada keeps strong epidemic control measures in place, between 11,000 and 22,000 people could die over the course of the pandemic — the best-case scenario for the country, the federal projections released Thursday suggest.

The number of possible deaths due to COVID-19 would surge into the hundreds of thousands if 25 per cent or more of the population is infected, according to the models.

"We are the authors of our fate," Tam said.

As of Thursday, there are 19,759 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the country and 461 related deaths, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

This month alone, the federal models predict a total of 22,580 to 31,850 coronavirus cases by April 16, which may result in approximately 500 to 700 deaths by that date.