B.C. reports 165 COVID-19 cases after officials indicate province on track for Step 2

British Columbia added 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, continuing a downward trend that's put the province on track to relax more restrictions soon.

B.C.'s rolling weekly average for coronavirus cases has dropped to 175 per day, down from a record high of 1,130 back in April – progress that health officials have credited to the province's immunization program.

"It is very encouraging to see a steady increase in the number of people in our province who are protected with a COVID-19 vaccine," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint written statement.

"There is so much to gain from the progress we are making, so let’s keep pushing to get as many people as possible fully vaccinated as soon as we can."

Just over 74 per cent of B.C. adults have now received at least one dose of vaccine, as have about 72 per cent of those 12 and older. A total of 3,685,240 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have been administered across the province so far, including 345,508 second doses.

The government set a target of getting 65 per cent of adults partially vaccinated before entering Step 2 of B.C.'s restart plan, which includes more intraprovincial travel and bigger outdoor gatherings. But there are other criteria as well, including declining transmission and hospitalizations.

The number of people battling COVID-19 in hospital increased slightly on Tuesday to 203, with 57 patients in intensive care. B.C.'s active caseload dropped to 2,051, which is the lowest its been since Oct. 23.

On Monday, health officials indicated that B.C. was making the progress necessary to ease more restrictions, which will be happening on June 15 at the earliest.

The province has now recorded a total of 145,695 COVID-19 cases and 1,722 related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Officials had no new fatalities to report Tuesday.

Of all cases identified so far, some 141,879 – or 97 per cent – have recovered.