B.C. health officials announced 515 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Tuesday, marking a steady downward trend in the province's caseload.
In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said there are currently 6,020 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C. — the lowest number of active cases the province has seen since March 25.
A total of 426 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 141 who are in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by 12 per cent from last Tuesday when 486 people were in hospital with the disease. The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 18 per cent from 173 a week ago.
The seven-day rolling average of new cases also continues to trend downward, hitting its lowest level since March 22. The provincial test positivity rate has also fallen from a high of about 11 per cent in early April to just over seven per cent.
Meanwhile, Monday set a new high for the number of people getting shots in B.C., with 60,483 jabs recorded. So far, 2,219,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 110,516 second doses.
"The number of people protected with a COVID-19 vaccine is going up every day, and the number of people requiring care in hospital is trending down. This is what we want to see and what we want to keep going," Henry and Dix said in Tuesday's statement.
"We are calling on every adult in our province to join our efforts and register for your vaccine today. Last week, almost 400,000 people registered for their vaccine. We can break that record this week."
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,624 lives lost out of 136,623 confirmed cases to date.
Public health orders and sick days
Also on Tuesday, the provincial government announced yet another extension of the state of emergency related to the pandemic, which will remain in place until at least May 25.
B.C. has been in a state of emergency since March 18, 2020.
"Most British Columbians have been doing their part to stay close to home and follow public health guidance, and that commitment is showing as the number of cases and hospitalizations begin to ease," Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a statement.
"But we're not through this yet, and everyone must continue to follow the rules or face enforcement. More importantly, by following orders for the next while and avoiding non-essential travel, you'll be doing your part to get us all through this sooner."
On Tuesday morning, the provincial government announced it is going to start giving all workers in the province up to three days of paid sick leave if they have to miss work due to COVID-19.
A statement said employers will be required to pay workers their full wages. For employers without an existing sick-leave program, the government has promised to reimburse up to $200 a day for each absent worker.
Currently, anyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for their vaccination if they have not already done so. This can be done online through the "Get Vaccinated" portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in person at any Service B.C. location.
People who are pregnant and front-line workers are also being prioritized.
British Columbians continue to remain under restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus. Non-essential travel is not permitted between three regional zones, defined by health authority boundaries, until after the May long weekend. Violators can face a fine of $575.