MONTREAL -- Experts are urging Canadians not to get discouraged if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise rapidly in the coming days, despite the measures taken by society to slow the spread.

An infectious disease specialist at Montreal's Jewish General Hospital says that, because it takes five to seven days for people to show symptoms plus more time for testing, it will take about two weeks for social distancing efforts to show any impact.

Dr. Matthew Oughton says until then, he expects the number of new cases to continue to rise rapidly -- even exponentially -- due to the contagious nature of the virus.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch of the University of Toronto believes measures such as closing schools, eliminating travel and asking people to stay home and keep their distance will eventually be successful in slowing the rate of infection.

But he warns the restrictive measures will likely last several weeks or months, depending on how the virus behaves and how fully society embraces the measures to contain it.

Both he and Oughton say the success of countries like China and South Korea in reducing new infections should give Canadians hope that COVID-19 can be contained with proper action.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 18, 2020.