A laboratory technical assistant at LifeLabs, handles a specimen to be tested for COVID-19 after scanning its barcode upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on March 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Twenty-eight new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Island Health region over the past 24 hours, B.C.’s top health officials announced Wednesday.

The update marked the highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases the health authority has seen since the pandemic began. The former record was set on Nov. 24 and 28, when 25 cases of the virus were seen in both 24-hour periods.

Across the province, 625 cases were recorded Wednesday, as well as eight more deaths related to the virus.

B.C.’s death toll has now reached 962 since the start of the pandemic.

“We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a joint written statement.

There are now 142 active cases of COVID-19 across Vancouver Island. Most of the active cases, 58, are located in South Vancouver Island. That total is followed closely by Central Vancouver Island where 55 cases are currently active. In North Vancouver Island, 29 cases of COVID-19 are ongoing.

Since the pandemic began, the Island Health region has reported 1,029 cases of the virus.

As of Wednesday, 33,665 British Columbians had received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Health officials ask that everyone continue to follow health guidelines and look after their own mental health as immunizations continue to be distributed.

“While the number of new cases and those with serious illness is higher than any of us want, there is light ahead, and with each day that we do our part and more people get immunized, that light gets brighter,” said Dix and Henry.

“No one is immune to this virus, but everyone can make a difference,” said the pair. “Connection is important to all of us, so reach out to someone who may be struggling and show them you care.”