B.C. has announced two new presumptive cases of coronavirus in the province.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday a man and woman, both visitors from China’s Hubei province, have been confirmed to have the illness.
Henry says the visitors are linked to a woman who was diagnosed earlier this week in the Vancouver area.
She says officials are confident one of the newly diagnosed people is the source of the novel coronavirus in that household.
Henry says that source is very likely a young, healthy man who had a very mild illness and didn’t seek medical attention.
“There was some concern expressed to me that perhaps there was asymptomatic transmission. That is not the case,” Henry said.
All the cases, along with close contacts to the cases, are in isolation at two homes, Henry said.
It has now been 14 days – the maximum incubation period for the virus – since some cities in China were essentially locked down, including the city of Wuhan where the outbreak originated. Anyone who returned from those regions before that time would have likely already shown symptoms if they were infected. There are are now four cases in B.C. and three in Ontario.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said earlier Thursday efforts to monitor the potential spread of the coronavirus is entering an important period. Health authorities, she said, are assessing whether quarantines put in place overseas have helped curb the outbreak.
“In the next days we hope to see if there’s any signs that some of these measures may be beginning to take effect,” she said.
Tam is recommending that travellers returning from Hubei province, the most affected area that includes Wuhan, limit contact with other people for 14 days after departure.
“We’re looking for people to self-isolate to contribute to the global containment effort to interrupt the line of spread,” she said. “During this period of time, out of precaution and total amount of prudence, if you like, we feel that this is the right message.”
People entering Canada from other parts of China should closely monitor themselves for symptoms, Tam said. Those include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Henry reiterated that people who have been in Hubei or had close contact with someone who has been in Hubei within 14 days should self isolate, which means staying home from work and to keep children home from school for the 14 day incubation period. Henry said they should also contact their public health office.
The outbreak has now infected more than 31,100 people globally and killed at least 636. In Canada, there are now seven cases, three in Ontario and four in British Columbia.
Henry said anyone who has come from other areas of China who has any symptoms, even mild cold symptoms, to connect with their public health office to review whether testing is needed.
“This is a really important measure for us to connect with people in the community to provide them the support and advice they need,” Henry said.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said tolerance makes Canada more able to respond to the current conditions.
“We want people to feel that they should report when they’re sick. We want people to be confident that their privacy is protected. We want people to work and support one another,” Dix said.
Canadians left Wuhan, China today on a plane chartered by Ottawa as well as a U.S. government flight.
The federal government has also chartered another flight next week.
Ottawa is offering consular assistance to two Canadians in Japan who contracted the virus on a cruise ship under quarantine and are now in hospital there.
With files from The Canadian Press