Vancouver Island adds 1 new COVID-19 case as B.C. set to ease restrictions

Health officials have confirmed one new case of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday.

The new case was among 44 cases found across the province over the past 24 hours.

B.C. has now reported 147,621 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, including 5,160 cases found in the island region.

There are currently 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region, including six people in hospital and three more receiving critical care, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Island Health identified the locations of 16 active cases Wednesday, including four in the South Island, 12 in the Central Island and none in the North Island.

Wednesday's update comes just one day before B.C. plans to enter Step 3 of its restart plan on July 1.

Step 3 includes the reopening of nightclubs and casinos, an endorsement of travel within the country, the removal of mandatory masks in indoor public spaces, and the removal of limits on the size of personal gatherings.

"With the start of Step 3 of the BC’s Restart plan coming into effect tomorrow, it is a time of renewal and reflection for all of us," said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a joint statement.

"While many of the orders will be amended or no longer be in effect, it is about the gradual restart of our province, moving at a pace that works for each of us," said the pair.

Health officials say no COVID-19-related deaths were recorded over the past 24 hours. Since the pandemic began, 1,754 people have died of the disease in B.C.

As of Wednesday, roughly 78.4 per cent of adults in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, while 77.1 per cent of people aged 12 and older have received their first shot.

Meanwhile, nearly a third of adults have received both doses of vaccine. Approximately 32.8 per cent of adults have received both shots, while 30.6 per cent of youth aged 12 and older have received both doses.

In total, B.C. has administered 5,002,916 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 1,421,506 second doses.

DANGEROUS HEAT WAVE

Health officials are urging British Columbians to check in on friends and family members amid B.C.'s record-setting heat wave.

On Wednesday, the BC Coroners Service announced that there had been 486 sudden deaths reported in the province over the past five days.

That total is approximately 195 per cent higher than the average number of 165 deaths seen over a five-day period. The coroners service believes that extreme heat was a contributing factor in most of the recent deaths.

"As our province continues to experience an unprecedented heat wave, it is important to take care of ourselves by staying cool and hydrated," said Dix and Henry.

"It is just as important to look out for one another and to reach out to those who may be more vulnerable to the heat, including seniors, those with underlying health issues and those who are unsheltered."