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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters about the latest COVID-19 case in B.C. on March 3, 2020.

Health officials have identified three more cases of the COVID-19 virus in B.C., bringing the province's total to 12.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said two of the latest patients recently returned from trips to Iran. One is a man in his 60s and the other is an adult woman whose age hasn't been confirmed.

So far, none of the newly announced COVID-19 patients appear to be suffering severe symptoms.

"None of the cases today have needed hospitalization, so all of them are being followed actively at home," Henry said.

The last new infection was discovered in a woman in her 30s who is connected to B.C.'s eighth COVID-19 case by a "close family relationship." Officials said she developed her symptoms while in isolation.

Two other pairs of COVID-19 cases in the province are also family members: patients three and four, and patients six and seven.

The latest update came just hours after the B.C. government announced the province's ninth confirmed COVID-19 infection, and after health officials in neighbouring Washington state revealed the death toll south of the border had increased to nine.

Eight of the fatalities were in King county, while one was in Snohomish county.

As the virus continues to spread, Dr. Henry once again urged people to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching their face as much as possible. She also stressed that people who are already experiencing symptoms should keep away from group settings.

"This is an extraordinary time. This is not just our usual influenza season," she told reporters Tuesday morning.

"We all have to be very aware of even mild respiratory symptoms so I'm asking all British Columbians: If you're sick, stay home."

Henry even suggested it could be time for people to reconsider common greetings like handshakes and hugs.

"It's OK to say I'm going to keep my germs to myself," she said. "When I worked a number of years ago in an Ebola outbreak in Uganda, we would tap feet or tap elbows. It's making contact with people without spreading your germs."

A total of 33 people have now tested positive for COVID-19 across Canada, though some have since fully recovered, including four in B.C.

The province's ninth patient is a man in his 50s who also recently returned from Iran. His infection was discovered late Monday night and he's being kept in isolation at home in the Fraser Health region, which spans from Burnaby to Hope.

"Fraser Health is following up with a small number of close contacts who are also in isolation today and will be actively monitored for the next few weeks," Henry said.

While the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Washington has put some British Columbians on edge, officials are still confident that travel restrictions at the borders would not help with their containment efforts.

"Those don't work," Henry said. "What works is awareness, understanding, asking people to do the right thing – and we find that people, for the most part, do."

Canada Border Services Agency staff already act as "quarantine officers," monitoring for illnesses as people head into the province from the U.S., and Henry said they have also started distributing information related to COVID-19, such as who to contact if one should fall ill.