OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health insists the physical distancing measures Ottawa residents are practicing is helping to avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa.

“We’re on a track to help us to avoid that big spike,” said Dr. Vera Etches, adding the next two weeks are “crucial” in the battle to flatten the curve.

Ottawa Public Health is investigating 144 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Ottawa. Three deaths have been linked to the virus.

The City of Ottawa has closed public parks and off-leash dog parks, while Ontario has prohibited gatherings of groups larger than five and closed publicly funded schools until at least May 4.

Dr. Etches says the physical distancing measures are “helping us have a very slow rise in the number of cases.”

“We haven’t seen a big surge in the number of cases, and that’s exactly what we want for it to continue to be, a manageable increase day over day, and then to slow that rate of increase.”

Dr. Etches says ideally we will “reach that point where the numbers actually decrease,” adding she can’t predict when the cases will begin to start decreasing.

Next two weeks are crucial

The Medical Officer of Health agrees with Premier Doug Ford that the next two weeks are “crucial” in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“We have put in some strong measures that should definitely make a difference in limiting the number of cases and transmission going forward, but we’re still seeing the impact of infections that occurred in the past,” said Dr. Etches.

“These two weeks coming up should allow us to have the protection of these measures in place, and to ride out the wave of infections that have been introduced into the community.”

Dr. Etches says the two week period after people have travelled will help eliminate travel related infections in the community.