677 more cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

A health-care worker wearing PPE transports a patient in the dialysis unit at the Humber River Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

B.C. health officials announced 677 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death on Tuesday, as the number of coronavirus patients in hospital climbed once again.

The update pushed the province's seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections to 724, the highest it's been since May 4.

Hospitalizations increased to 288 – a jump of 10 from Monday – with 140 people being treated in intensive care. The ministry did not provide an updated breakdown on the patients' immunization status Tuesday, but on Monday reported that 87 per cent of the 139 patients then in ICU were unvaccinated.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix have been sounding the alarm in recent weeks about the strain COVID-19 patients are putting on hospitals as the government struggles with the fourth wave of the pandemic.

Dix also revealed this week that one baby and one child of elementary school age were in intensive care.

"The infant in ICU has been discharged healthy and that's good news," the minister confirmed Tuesday afternoon. "What those ICU numbers show by age group is pretty straightforward: that people who are unvaccinated right now are at risk of some serious health effects from COVID-19."

As of Tuesday, 86 per cent of eligible residents age 12 and older have already received at least one dose of vaccine, and 78.5 have received both doses.

The latest infections pushed the province's number of active cases up to 6,165, an increase of more than 300 from Monday, with more than half of those coming from the Interior Health and Fraser Health regions.

- with files from CTV -