OTTAWA -- Ottawa Police warn you may see officers on duty in gas masks as they take steps to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19.

The first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was announced in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Steve Bell tells CTV News Ottawa that police are focusing on the safety of officers, and that means “you will see members of our police service out in gas masks.”

“Our frontline members will use those gas masks when they need to in a certain circumstance,” said Deputy Chief Bell.

“I think it’s important to remember it doesn’t mean our officers are going to be driving around all the time donning their gas masks. This will be in specific situations where they need to don their personal protective equipment to protect themselves from what might be in the environment.”

Bell says the decision to wear gas masks is widely due to a shortage of standard-issue surgical masks.