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COVID-19 BC update: 289 more cases in latest daily update

Hours after issuing an update on restrictions in the province, B.C. officials announced another 289 cases and one death of COVID-19.

VANCOUVER -- British Columbia reported 289 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death on Tuesday, as the government unveiled its restart plan for relaxing restrictions.

The province has now recorded a total of 142,636 infections and 1,680 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

"Our condolences are with the family, friends and caregivers of the people who have died as a result of COVID-19," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint written statement.

The latest update saw B.C.'s active case count and seven-day average continue their weeks-long decline. The active caseload now sits at 3,782, while the average has dropped to 365 – the lowest it's been since Nov. 5.

Officials cited that progress as the reason they were able to loosen several of the COVID-19 rules that have been in place for weeks if not months. But Henry and Dix stressed that continuing to relax the restrictions will depend on B.C. maintaining that progress.

"What will remain the same - no matter what - is the importance of washing our hands, staying home and staying away from others when we are ill, and getting tested should we develop any symptoms of COVID-19," they said.

"We are not yet through this storm, but the end is in sight. We are getting closer every day, and now there is a clear roadmap for how we'll get there."

The government said that deaths, hospitalizations and the progress of B.C.'s immunization program will also determine when more rules can be altered or lifted altogether.

COVID-19 hospitalizations, which have been coming down steadily since reaching a provincial record of 515 back in April, increased slightly on Tuesday. There are now 301 people battling the disease in hospital, 93 of whom are in intensive care.

B.C. announced another 40,563 administered doses of COVID-19 vaccine, bringing the provincial total to 2,927,487. That includes 2,778,908 first doses – enough to cover 65 per cent of adults, and 54 per cent of the provincial population – and 148,580 second doses.

Under the loosened restrictions presented earlier on Tuesday, B.C. residents can now meet friends at restaurants and dine indoors, host a small number of visitors inside their homes, and travel for recreational purposes within their designated travel zone.

If things continue going well, officials expect to allow travel across B.C. and Canada within weeks, and reopen movie theatres, nightclubs and casinos. The province's mask mandate could also be ending over the summer as well.

"As cases continue to decline and immunizations steadily rise, we are moving forward with purpose, monitoring our progress to ensure we remain on track," Henry and Dix said.

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