COVID-19 update: B.C. adds 44 cases, tops 5 million vaccine doses

British Columbia has recorded another 44 cases of COVID-19, health officials said Wednesday while marking another milestone in the province's immunization program.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said more than five million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines have now been administered across the province, and about one-third of the adult population has received both shots.

Widespread vaccine uptake has been credited with helping to curb COVID-19 transmission, which paved the way for B.C. to enter Step 3 of the government's restart plan on Thursday.

"It is a time of renewal and reflection for all of us," Henry and Dix said in a joint written statement. "Let's take heart in knowing that no matter the obstacle before us or how fierce the storm may be, it is caring and kindness that will see us through as we continue on this journey together."

The infections announced Wednesday pushed the province's seven-day average down to 52, a fraction of the all-time high of 1,130 recorded back in April.

B.C.'s active caseload dropped to 816, the lowest its been since Aug. 20. That includes 108 people battling COVID-19 in hospital, with 34 in intensive care.

With transmission down, officials have also confirmed they are finally ending the record-breaking state of emergency that has been in place since March 18, 2020, and which gave the government extraordinary powers to enforce B.C.'s travel ban, mask mandate and other measures.

The state of emergency is being lifted at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Several restrictions will be removed or relaxed when the province enters Step 3, allowing for a "return to normal" for indoor and outdoor personal gatherings, the resumption of large organized events with thousands of people, and much more.

The mask mandate is also being replaced with a recommendation that everyone age 12 and up who has not been fully vaccinated – meaning they have received their second shot and had 14 days for it to build antibody protection – should continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

"Even with the changes, masks remain an important layer of protection, and we should all continue to wear them in all indoor public spaces until we have immunity from the second dose of vaccine," Henry and Dix said.

B.C. has administered 5,002,916 doses of vaccine so far, including 1,421,506 second doses.

The province has recorded a total of 147,621 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and 1,754 related deaths. Health officials had no new deaths to announce on Wednesday.

Of all the people who have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, in B.C. about 98 per cent have recovered.