Health officials have identified two more presumed positive cases of the novel coronavirus in British Columbia.
The latest coronavirus patients are visitors from China's Hubei province, and have been staying with a B.C. woman who was identified as the province's second coronavirus patient earlier this week.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said officials are "quite confident" the woman caught the coronavirus from one of her visitors.
"Having done the epidemiology and the investigation within that household, one of these individuals is very likely … the source for the case that we announced on Tuesday here in British Columbia," Henry told reporters Thursday.
The doctor said the new patients are a man and woman in their 30s. Health officials previously revealed the visitors left China before the country imposed strict travel restrictions in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, but said they were conscious of the outbreak and minimized their time in public after they arrived in Canada.
The three patients remain in isolation at the same home, which is located somewhere in the Vancouver Coastal Health region that includes Richmond, Vancouver and the North Shore.
Officials said the patients' "close contacts" are also staying in isolation.
Henry dismissed speculation that the B.C. woman could have been infected while her visitors were asymptomatic. She said the suspected source of the infection had been suffering "relatively mild" symptoms and had not sought medical attention.
"Young people, particularly young healthy people, can have very mild illnesses that may appear like a cold," Henry said.
Presumed positive means individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus locally, but samples have yet to be tested at the National Microbiology Lab for final confirmation. Henry said the samples are on their way to the Winnipeg laboratory.
If the latest cases are officially confirmed, it will bring the number of coronavirus patients Canada-wide to seven – four in B.C. and three in Ontario.
Local and federal health officials – as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – continue to reassure the public that the risk of the virus spreading in Canada remains low.
“We’ve managed to keep risk to Canadians low because people have been responding responsibly, quickly and in a co-ordinated fashion,” Trudeau said Thursday.
When it comes to determining when patients can be considered healthy and no longer contagious, B.C. officials have said they're following the protocols recommended by the World Health Organization. That means waiting until people stop exhibiting symptoms, and testing nasal swabs for the virus two times 24 hours apart.
Health authorities continue to stress that people should wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face if they want to keep the coronavirus at bay. People with cold symptoms are urged to cough or sneeze into their elbow, properly dispose of tissues, stay home and avoid group gatherings.
Anyone who believes they were exposed to the novel coronavirus, or who is already showing symptoms, can contact their doctor, local public health office or B.C.'s medical advice line at 811.