HALIFAX -- Nova Scotia's top doctor says there will be another high total of COVID-19 cases on Friday and it will continue for a few more days until we see the effect of the toughest restrictions that were put in place last week.

"We're going to still get these high numbers for a number of days to come," Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said in an interview with CTV Atlantic.

Strang said the toughest restrictions have been in for just over a week – they were implemented last Wednesday – and takes two weeks to see the impact of our tough measures.

One of the problems for the delay in the earlier measures – which were implemented two weeks ago on Friday -- not having an effect was poor compliance, Strang said.

"People didn't really clue in that this was as serious as it was," he said.

It wasn't until the provincial lockdown was implemented that people started to follow the new restrictions in the Halifax area.

"What we're seeing is largely from before we put the restrictions in place," Strang said. "We know there's more cases out there than we're reporting. We will get on top of this. Public health has been overwhelmed, so we're behind."

Strang also said that there are probably cases outside of Halifax that public health is not yet aware of.

He said the outbreak should not be a concern only in Halifax.

"Everybody in the province needs to act like it it's in their community," he said.

The long-term goal is to have a much less restrictive summer, but Strang said there's some work to do to make that happen.

"We're going to have to stay locked down for much longer," Strang said. "May is going to be a tough month."

Although he said it's too early to make a decision for sure, Strang also said that parents, students, and teachers should prepare for the possibility of not going back to in-school learning.

"It's quite possible that we're into virtual learning for the rest of this school year, but we're going to do this on a week-by-week basis," Strang said.

He says one of the province's priorities is to have kids in school if at all possible.

"But people need to understand that it may not be possible," he said.

Strang suggested there might be a "tweaking" of restrictions on Friday, more restrictive measures might not occur before next Wednesday.

Strang says he's concerned for Nova Scotians and the health-care system, but remains optimistic.

"I still believe we're going to get this under control," Strang said. "It's going to take longer than we initially thought, but I do think that we are going to start seeing these numbers trend downward as we get into the middle of next week -- but a lot of this depends on all of us doing what we need to bring it under control."