Health officials counted 35 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.
The new cases were among 564 cases found across B.C. over the past 24 hours, for a total of 82,473 cases in the province since the pandemic began.
Four more people in B.C. have died of the disease since Wednesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 1,376.
Health officials have now identified 2,489 cases of COVID-19 in the Island Health region since the pandemic began.
There are currently 313 active cases in the island region, including 17 people in hospital and one in critical care.
Island Health identified the locations of 272 active cases Thursday, including 154 in the Central Island, 68 in the North Island and 50 in the South Island.
Twenty-seven people on Vancouver Island have now died of the disease, while 2,146 have recovered.
Health officials on Thursday confirmed 46 new cases of variants of concern in B.C., for a total of 246 variant cases in the province. Six of those variant cases have been identified in the Island Health region.
Public health officers have administered 298,851 doses of COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., including 86,746 secondary doses.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said 212,105 British Columbians have now received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or approximately 4.9 per cent of the eligible population.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. would be receiving its first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine sometime next week.
“This vaccine will be made available to first responders and other essential workers, and the delivery of these vaccines will run in parallel but separately from our age-based community-wide immunization program,” Henry said.
B.C.’s top doctor said that essential group is a “very broad” sector of British Columbians, including those who cannot work from home.
“We will prioritize our delivery of these vaccines accordingly,” Henry said. “This is not a random process, this is not me making a decision out of the blue. We follow a very defined process.”
A committee of public health officials is currently assembling its recommendations for who gets the AstraZeneca vaccine and when. Henry said she hopes to announce the detailed rollout plan on our around March 18.
“In the meantime, we are planning to use the initial shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccines… as soon as we can to address our ongoing clusters and outbreaks that are leading to some of these rapidly increasing numbers in some places,” Henry said.
Despite the positive news on vaccines, Henry said the rising number of cases in B.C. – especially the rising number of variant cases – is distressing.
She urged British Columbians to keep following public health orders and not let up on wearing masks and maintaining physical distance from others.