B.C. health officials announced 908 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Friday.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 294 people, 81 of whom are in intensive care.
There are currently 6,245 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 9,996 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure.
A total of 87,866 people who tested positive for the virus have recovered, while 1,449 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Fraser Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Abbotsford Regional Hospital after evidence of transmission in a medicine unit. Four patients at the hospital have tested positive.
The outbreak is limited to one unit, which is temporarily closed to admissions.
'Safety layers at forefront'
The statement said that although vaccines are increasing protection against the coronavirus for people in the province, there is a a sustained increase in clusters of new cases, including variants of concern.
"This is particularly concerning in the Lower Mainland areas," said the statement. "This requires all of us to continue to put our safety layers at the forefront of all we do."
There have been 140 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern, for a total of 1,912 cases. The province says there are 258 active variant cases in B.C.
As of Friday 637,856 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-SII COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., of which 87,233 are second doses.
Vaccine appointment bookings are now open for people 74 or older and Indigenous peoples over 55, while some vulnerable people who have received a letter from the province can begin booking appointments on Monday.
Big White outbreak contained
On Friday, Interior Health announced that a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a popular Okanagan ski resort that emerged in mid-December is now contained.
The cluster at Big White Mountain resort near Kelowna grew to 237 cases, with 150 of the people infected residing or working on the mountain.
Interior Health says all cases have now recovered.
Friday's numbers set a new one-day case record for 2021 following 800 cases announced on Thursday.
The rolling seven-day average of new cases has jumped 25 per cent in the last eight days. Active cases are at their highest since Jan. 7.
The province is pleading for people to avoid indoor gatherings and only meet outdoors with people beyond their household.
In a series of Tweets, Dix said it is important that people make the right choices in the days ahead.
"We all need to remember that while some activities are safe for us to do, others are not," he wrote. "Seeing different friends on different days — even if we're outside — is unsafe and so is gathering in our homes where layers of protection, like physical barriers and masks, are not used."
Despite the rise in cases of COVID-19, provincial officials have loosened restrictions for visitors to long-term care homes and made temporary allowances for indoor religious services.
Henry cautioned it's likely there will be more outbreaks in care homes as restrictions ease and community transmission remains high but said the benefit of increased social interaction for seniors in the facilities outweigh the potential harm.
She said the risks can be managed at the sites, as most staff and residents have been immunized, which will reduce the level of infections and lessen the severity of the illness caused by the disease.