Children and teens between the ages of 12 and 17 are now eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccine, B.C. health officials announced Wednesday.
The news came as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 521 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths on Wednesday — the highest one-day total for lives lost since March 18.
There are currently 4,815 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C., they said in a statement.
"Getting everyone in our province immunized is our pathway forward through the COVID-19 pandemic. This will ensure we have enough protection and community immunity to allow us to slowly lift public health and travel restrictions."
More information about youth vaccination plans will be revealed on Thursday, they said.
To date, 2,632,907 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in B.C., including 135,246 second doses. A record high of 65,971 people received their shot on Tuesday.
A total of 340 people are now in hospital with the disease, including 118 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are down by nearly 20 per cent from last Wednesday, when 423 people were in hospital with the disease.
The number of patients in intensive care is down by about 16 per cent from 141 a week ago.
The provincial death toll from the disease is now 1,658 lives lost out of 140,596 confirmed cases to date.
Provincewide, about 6.7 per cent of COVID-19 tests are now positive, down from nearly 11 per cent at the height of the third wave, according to numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
A new outbreak has been declared at the Heritage Manor II assisted living facility in Fort St. John, where Northern Health says three residents have tested positive for the virus. An outbreak at Sandalwood Retirement Resort in Kelowna has been declared over.
Mounties promise to ramp up travel checks
All British Columbians remain under provincial travel restrictions until after the May long weekend.
On Wednesday, the B.C. RCMP warned that they would be increasing the number and duration of road checks over the holiday to ensure people aren't travelling outside of their local region for non-essential purposes.
"Over the past two weeks, police have established rotating checks at four locations. While overall traffic volume has been less than normal levels, we did see an increase in traffic this past weekend," Supt. Holly Turton said in a statement.
Between May 14 and 16, police checked a total of 2,069 vehicles, 30 of which turned around voluntarily, according to RCMP.
Road checks will continue at four locations: Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area; Highway 3 in the Manning Park area; Highway 5 in the Old Toll Booth area; and Highway 99 in the Lillooet area.
Meanwhile, officials have said B.C. is on pace to have each eligible adult receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by Canada Day. Currently, anyone 18 and older in British Columbia can register for vaccination.