VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials announced another six deaths of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the provincial total since the start of the pandemic to 1,327.

Speaking alongside Health Minister Adrian Dix, the deputy provincial health officer added another 508 cases had been confirmed in the latest reporting period. Of the total 75,835 infections confirmed since the pandemic began, 4,486 cases are considered active.

Of those, 217 people are in hospital, 61 of whom are in intensive care or critical care units.

Another 7,699 people are under active monitoring from public health following possible exposure to the disease.

Dr. Réka Gustafson spoke at Friday's news conference in Vancouver as Dr. Bonnie Henry took a rare day off, and told reporters 69,970 people have "fully recovered" from the novel coronavirus.

Gustafson said a new outbreak has been declared since Thursday's case update, this time at the Florentine, a long-term care facility in B.C.'s Interior Health region.

The province is currently dealing with 13 active outbreaks in long-term care and six in acute care.

Among the data provincial health officials are monitoring is the number of cases considered variants of the novel coronavirus.

As of Friday's update, B.C. now has 72 cases of these "variants of concern." The vast majority (52) have been identified through testing as B.1.7.7, which is associated with the U.K.

Another 20 cases are B.1.351, a variant first noted in South Africa, and so far just one case is known to be B.1.525. This variant is associated with Nigeria, and the province's single case is in a person who had recently returned from the country to B.C.'s Interior. It was first identified one week ago.

As for vaccinations, Gustafson said 192,942 doses have been given in B.C., 36,923 of which were second doses.

While delays in shipments of the vaccines have meant pushing back the second dose for some, preliminary data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control suggested a single dose can dramatically decrease the risk of infection. 

An early examination of data, which is based on observations and has not been peer-reviewed, suggested just one shot could reduce that risk by 80 per cent or more.

On Thursday, health-care workers administered 12,250 doses – the most ever given in a single day in the province.

"This is very good news, because with every individual that is protected by vaccination, we are all safer," Gustafson said.

She called the initial results of the province's vaccination rollout, in which the province targeted long-term care residents and staff first, "very encouraging" in terms of controlling outbreaks and of overall efficacy.

"This has been a long and difficult journey for many of us," the doctor said, but it appears preventative measures are working. Still, she acknowledged some days are hard, and sometimes people slip when it comes to following guidelines.

"At this stage in the pandemic it is key to be supportive of each other and focus on the things that make a real difference: staying at home when you are sick; avoiding gatherings; following the safety plans of your workplace and school; and getting tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19," she said.