B.C. health officials announced 1,005 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths on Friday as the number of people winding up in hospital continued to break records.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 425 people in hospital, including 127 in intensive care, both totals surpassing the records set earlier this week.
There are a total of 10,081 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C. — yet another record high.
Hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up 28 per cent from last Friday, when 332 people were in hospital. Intensive care numbers have risen by nearly 25 per cent in the same time period.
In their statement, Henry and Dix called on British Columbians to enjoy the outdoors this weekend, but to do it safely in small, consistent groups.
"Be purposeful about who you are seeing and where you are going, and stick with the same close contacts," they said.
"If you choose to see a close friend for brunch on a patio, then make sure it is the same friend every time. If you decide to have a barbecue in your backyard, then keep to your roommates or family only. Or, if you visit your neighbourhood park with another family, then make it with only one other family and do activities that allow everyone to keep a safe distance from each other."
They also urged everyone to stay in their own neighbourhood and not to travel except for essential reasons.
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,530 lives lost out of 117,080 cases to date.
Public health is actively monitoring 15,877 people across the province who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.
So far, 1,282,091 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 87,970 second doses.
The total number of cases of variants of concern in the province now sits at 5,739, of which 212 are active.
Meanwhile, Interior Health says an outbreak at Vernon Jubilee Hospital has been declared over, after 10 patients and four staff members tested positive. Three people died in connection with that outbreak.
Friday's numbers come in the wake of a week that marked a steady rise in hospitalization numbers.
Henry said in a news conference Thursday that B.C. could see up to 2,000 new COVID-19 cases a day by May if the number of contacts per person is not reduced, according to new epidemiological modelling.
"The rate of infectious contacts is somewhere around 50 to 60 per cent. That is too high. We need to get down to 40 per cent or less. We did that last March and we did that in November," she said.
Racing against the virus
The province continues on its mission to put as many shots in arms as fast as possible.
However, Moderna has announced a delay in shipments of its vaccine to Canada, a development that Dix described as disappointing.
"The sooner we get vaccines in people's arms, the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame," Dix said in a news release.
"That said, the federal government has said it will send additional doses of Pfizer in May and June. Doses in April would be more helpful, but we appreciate the ongoing effort and commitment of the federal government."
Everyone aged 55 and up is now eligible to receive a vaccine and Premier John Horgan rolled up his sleeve Friday for his first dose of AstraZeneca.
People 45 and up are eligible to register for a vaccine.
Registering for a vaccine is not the same as booking the appointment to get your shot.
Watch: B.C. premier talks about getting the shot
Once registered, users receive a confirmation code, followed by an email, a text or a call telling them when they're eligible to use the code to make an appointment.
The numbers show that over the past week, B.C. has been vaccinating around one per cent of eligible adults each day.
Henry said out of those who have received one dose of the vaccine, around 0.07 per cent, about 400 people, tested positive for COVID-19 after 14 days but none of them died from the disease.