KITCHENER -- Waterloo Region's top doctor called for everyone in the community to do their part when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19.

In a media briefing on Friday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang pleaded for people to "aggressively reduce" their non-essential social interactions.

"If we do nothing, if as a community we do not aggressively reduce our social interactions, we will spiral into a lockdown," she said.

Over the past few weeks, the COVID-19 situation has worsened in Waterloo Region. Nearly a third of the region's total number of cases have been reported since the start of November, prompting the province to escalate the region from the yellow zone to orange and then red.

That's one tier away from a lockdown under the province's COVID-19 control framework.

"Due to the growth in cases that has already occurred, it will get worse before it gets better. That is why it is imperative that we act now," she said Friday.

"These measures are difficult but they are absolutely necessary. The longer we wait, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to wrestle our case numbers down."

Dr. Wang also said that it was getting more difficult for public health officials to get in touch with positive cases within 24 hours. She said it's averaged about 50 per cent in that time.

Dr. Wang is urging residents to check Ontario's COVID-19 website for results. She also said anyone who gets a positive result before public health can follow should tell close contacts so they can get tested and self-isolate. People should also have a list of contacts ready for when public health calls them, which can take a couple of days.

With those things in mind, she urged families not to gather for Christmas, instead celebrating this year with only those in their household. That echoes the provincial guidance issued earlier this week.

She acknowledged that these restrictions are significant and frustrating, but reminded the public that it is for everyone's benefit.

"Your efforts and sacrifices are appreciated. Thank you for doing all that you can to help our community right now," she said.

Waterloo Region has seen more than 3,200 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Of those, more than 2,700 have recovered, while 124 people have died from the disease.