WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg has been under the orange or restricted level of the pandemic response plan for 17 days.

In the time the new restrictions on gathering sizes and mandatory masks have been in effect, Winnipeg’s total number of COVID-19 cases has become the highest in the province, several record-breaking case numbers have been reported, and additional restrictions are looming.

Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist, said any effect from the code orange restrictions might take some time to show up in the city.

“We know that it takes about two weeks, at least one incubation period, and probably closer to two incubation periods to see any effect,” he said.

“The unfortunate reality is what we do today won’t be reflected for at least 14 days. But, we are seeing that spike in cases, and I don’t think that was completely unanticipated.”

Kindrachuk said with the recent growth in cases, Winnipeggers need to make better choices to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“It is like a wildfire that is spreading,” he said. “It has caught some wind, it has now spread to some different places, we don’t have a choice but to start making better personal decisions.”

Kindrachuk said one of the most important decisions people can make to help others is to stay home when they’re sick.

“We can’t predict who is going to be able to spread out their virus to this many people, compared to the normal three or four,” he said.

“If we have symptoms at all, we have to do our part. We have to make good decisions. There’s just no question about it at this point.”

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace and Nicole Dube.