B.C. health officials announced 250 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths on Wednesday, bringing the seven-day rolling average of new cases to its lowest point since early November.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 3,580 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
A total of 296 people are in hospital, including 97 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 13 per cent from last Wednesday, when 340 people were in hospital with the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 18 per cent from 118 a week ago.
So far, 2,979,951 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 152,010 second doses.
Henry and Dix urged British Columbians to register for a vaccine and book an appointment if they haven't already, calling immunization "the foundation of our approach" to getting life back to normal again.
"Equally important is that our approach be purposeful and measured when spending time with others — keeping our socializing to a small number of people, going outside as much as possible and taking extra precautions if our family and friends are higher risk," they said.
"Every day, we're getting closer to where we want to be, so let's keep going with our individual and collective efforts."
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,683 lives lost out of 142,886 confirmed cases.
Roadmap to reopening
On Tuesday, B.C. recorded the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases since February and the provincial government laid out a four-step reopening plan that could see people socializing normally again as early as September.
The four steps outlined by the province are a roadmap through the spring and summer, paving the way for a return to family gatherings, small celebrations, fuller restaurants and freer travel for the first time in more than a year
As of now, residents can once again dine indoors, hit the gym for low-intensity workouts, play outdoor sports and hold faith-based gatherings in person — though all of those activities still have to happen on a smaller scale with safety protocols in place.
The restart plan is entirely contingent on case counts dropping, hospitalizations declining and 70 per cent of the population getting vaccinated. It also relies on the assumption that variants do not significantly alter health outcomes for COVID-19 patients or the efficacy of vaccines.
If the data trends in the right direction, restrictions on travel within B.C. could be lifted in Step 2 — around June 15 at the earliest. Travelling within Canada would be acceptable in Step 3, around July 1. Virtually all public health orders could be removed as early as Sept. 7.
Officials have said B.C. is on pace to beat its July 1 timeline to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible residents aged 18 and older.