OTTAWA -- Ottawa now has 19 cases of the coronavirus, the city’s top doctor said Thursday morning, while issuing a fresh warning that social distancing is more important than ever.

Dr. Vera Etches said the five new COVID-19 cases are classified as ‘intermediate’ because another laboratory test is required before they are confirmed, and they aren’t yet counted on public health’s website.

But Etches said she feels people are misinterpreting the positive case count in Ottawa.

“It’s this misinterpretation that either the case numbers don’t mean that much or social distancing is working,” she told CTV Morning Live. “I really want to head that off, because they undermine the effort that is needed now to protect people.”

“People have had the impression over the last couple of days we haven’t had as many cases reported,” she added. In fact, she said, the number of cases has nearly doubled since Sunday, when the city had 10 confirmed cases.

Later Thursday morning, the Ontario Ministry of Health confirmed two new cases of the virus in Ottawa, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 16.

Etches also said it’s important to convey that the positive test numbers are old information.

“These are people who became ill, sometimes two weeks ago,” she said. “The case counts are not the whole picture.”

Etches also said it’s too early to tell whether social distancing is working to help stem the tide of the outbreak.

“Unfortunately, we have to maintain this social distancing for at least two weeks until we know if it’s changing the numbers, because those cases we’re counting now are old,” she said.

“Stay home, and stay safe.”

As of Thursday morning, Canada had more than 720 confirmed cases of the virus, including more than 200 in Ontario.