VICTORIA — Two more presumptive cases of the novel coronavirus have been diagnosed in British Columbia, where a total of four people have now been sickened with the illness.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said a man and woman, both visitors from China, have tested positive for the virus that is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan.
Henry said Thursday the latest cases involve people who'd been in China's Hubei province and that they're linked to a woman who was diagnosed Tuesday in the Vancouver area.
Officials are confident one of the newly diagnosed people is the source of the virus in that household, she said, adding he's a young, healthy man who had a very mild illness and did not seek medical attention.
All the people in the household are isolated in a home and being monitored by the Vancouver Coastal Health authority, she said.
Anyone who has travelled to Hubei province should self-isolate for 14 days and contact public health officials for support, Henry said of new recommendations for people travelling to B.C.
"This is a really important measure for us to connect with people in the community, to provide them with the support and advice they need," she said, adding communities must work together as the virus spreads around the world.
However, she said some people from China have reported being ostracized and others facing the same reaction may fear contacting health authorities.
"We have been hearing some very disturbing references to China and Chinese people and the fact that Chinese communities are feeling at risk here," Henry said.
"If we start ostracizing people because they're sick that makes it much more difficult for us to do our job in public health, to identify people and to be able to support and monitor them when they have this illness."
Health Minister Adrian Dix said people should feel confident their privacy will be protected if they are ill and know that public-health officials will support them.
"It's not just the tolerance of Canadian society and something to be celebrated in the abstract it's a real strength for our public health-care system," he said.
As with all cases, the latest ones will be confirmed at a national laboratory in Winnipeg.
The virus has been linked to over 560 deaths, most of them in China. Canada now has seven cases of the illness, including three in Ontario.
The first plane carrying 176 people from China began its trip Thursday and was expected to refuel in Vancouver before heading to Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in Ontario, where it is scheduled to arrive Friday.
Those passengers will begin 14 days under quarantine at the military base.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 6, 2020.
The Canadian Press