British Columbia health officials have reported 542 new cases – including 31 in Island Health – and seven deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
The number of confirmed cases in B.C. climbs to 81,909 while the province’s death toll now stands at 1,372.
Of the new cases, 131 were recorded in Vancouver Coastal Health, 292 were in Fraser Health, 31 in Island Health, 43 in Interior Health, and 44 in Northern Health and one person who normally resides outside of Canada.
There are currently 4,654 active cases in the province, 246 people in hospital — 64 of whom are in intensive care — and 8,617 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.
On a positive note, 75,819 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19.
Wednesday’s figures come hours after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released a statement Wednesday calling all jurisdictions in Canada to extend the administration interval between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine four months.
Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, called the NACI’s recommendations positive but not surprising.
“This decision by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization supports our approach in B.C. and we expected that and we are very positive about it,” said Dix.
RELATED: NACI recommends provinces extended COVID-19 vaccine dose intervals
There are 326 active cases on Vancouver Island, a decrease of four cases since the last update on March 2, according to the latest information posted on the BCCDC‘s dashboard.
Sixteen people are currently in hospital due to COVID-19 on the Island, one of whom is in critical care.
A total of 1,123 tests for COVID-19 were performed on Vancouver Island in the past 24 hours.
Additionally, there were more COVID-19 exposures reported at schools on Vancouver Island, including George P. Vanier Secondary in Courtenay, which reported three additional dates.
The surge of exposures in recent weeks has resulted in a petition being launched, calling on School District 71 to halt in-class learning at schools in the Comox Valley due to a “staggering” increase in cases.
Meanwhile, Island Health reported 270 active cases on Vancouver Island in its latest dashboard update. Of those active cases, 41 are in the South Island, 161 are in Central Island, and 68 are in the North Island.
Island Health’s data often lags behind the BCCDC’s data due to a “difference in timing of reporting across laboratory and public health data sources.”
Vancouver Island has recorded 2,454 cases, 26 deaths, and 2,099 recoveries since the pandemic began.
RELATED: Over 1,600 people sign petition demanding Comox Valley schools close due to COVID-19
As of March 3, Canada has recorded 875,559 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was identified more than a year ago, according to Health Canada.
With 303,763 recorded infections, Ontario has reported the most cases of anywhere in the country, followed by Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia.
Of the nearly 30,000 active cases in Canada, roughly 1,350 of them are on First Nation reserves.
Over 22,100 people have died nationwide from COVID-19, with Quebec accounting for nearly half of all deaths.
RELATED: International air travel a fraction of pre-pandemic times