B.C. health officials announced 317 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Friday.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 3,441 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
A total of 292 people are in hospital, with 79 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by eight per cent from last Friday, when 319 people were in hospital with the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 26 per cent from 107 a week ago.
Henry and Dix said that while case numbers and hospitalizations from the virus continue to trend downward, new clusters are still popping up. They urged everyone to continue taking measures to prevent transmission and advised everyone who isn't to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
"This has been a milestone week in B.C.'s COVID-19 pandemic response. Our restart plan began, our surgical renewal strategy resumed and we have started the accelerated delivery of second doses to people throughout the province," they said.
"We have a roadmap and now we must stick to the path: doing what we can to further slow the spread of COVID-19 and break the chains of transmission in our communities."
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,692 lives lost out of 143,581 confirmed cases.
One new outbreak has been declared in long-term care at Brookside Lodge in Surrey.
So far, 3,106,269 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 160,885 second doses. On Thursday, a record 73,458 shots went into arms.
More than 67 per cent of people aged 18 and up have now received a first dose in B.C., while nearly 63 per cent of those over the age of 12 have gotten a shot.
2nd dose timeline moved up
B.C. health officials announced Thursday most people in the province will be able to receive a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine within eight weeks of their first. The province is still setting 16 weeks as the maximum interval between doses.
Second doses are now being administered to long-term care home residents and staff. As of Thursday, people aged 70 and up and people who are clinically vulnerable will be invited to book second dose appointments. People who received their first dose through community clinics in hot spots will also receive their second dose within eight weeks.
Henry said anyone who received their vaccine before April 15 and was not registered with the province's online vaccine registration system should register now to receive an email or text notification of their second dose appointment.
Children between the ages of 12 and 17, about 310,000 people in B.C., can also register through the online portal. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was recently approved for use in children of that age group.
Restrictions and reopening
Because of a decline in cases and the rising number of British Columbians who have been vaccinated against the virus, the province has laid out a four-step reopening plan that could see people socializing normally again as early as September.
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.
Masks and physical distancing measures remain mandatory. Recreational travel is allowed, but still only within the province's three regional health zones.
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 could be acceptable by Step 3, around July 1.