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This undated image released by the British Health Protection Agency shows an electron microscope image of a coronavirus, part of a family of viruses that cause ailments including the common cold and SARS, which was first identified last year in the Middle East. (AP / Health Protection Agency)

The B.C. government has announced the discovery of two new cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus in the province Thursday.

According to a joint statement made by Minister of Health Adrian Dix and B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, the two new cases were found in the Vancouver Coastal Health area, bringing the total number of cases in B.C. up to four.

Officials say that the two new people affected – a man and a woman both in their 30s – are staying in the same residence as the person who was confirmed to have the second case of the virus announced on Feb. 5, a woman in her 50s who had recently visited China.

All three people remain in isolation in the home.

"The two individuals are presumed positive based on local testing, and samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for final confirmation," reads the joint statement.

"They are visitors to the Vancouver Coastal Health region from Hubei province, China. Vancouver Coastal Health continues to investigate. Their close contacts have been identified and continue to be followed by the health authority."

Provincial health authorities maintain that the risk of the novel virus spreading through British Columbia is low. 

To avoid infection, the B.C. government recommends following regular hygiene practices that one would take to prevent a traditional flu.

"The most important measures to prevent all respiratory illnesses, including this novel coronavirus, remain cleaning your hands regularly and avoiding touching your face, as well as coughing or sneezing into your elbow sleeve, disposing of tissues appropriately and staying home and away from others if you become sick," reads the joint statement.

"We want to reassure people that the risk of spread of this virus within British Columbia remains low at this time. We are watching the situation very closely and will notify the public if measures in B.C. change. The goal is rapid identification of potential cases, timely care for those who need it and prevention of local transmission."

Anyone who believes they may be experiencing the coronavirus, or who may have been exposed to it, is asked to contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call HealthLink BC at 811. 

"Now is the time for tolerance," reads the joint statement. "We call on all British Columbians to come together as a community to help one another." 

"In this time of uncertainty, this is not only the right response, but the necessary one. Fear obstructs the important work of our public health officials to protect the health and safety of British Columbians."