VANCOUVER -- B.C. health officials announced 444 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday – the lowest daily increase in infections since early November.

But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix also confirmed another 12 coronavirus fatalities, bringing the death toll for this month to 336.

December alone now accounts for 43 per cent of the 777 COVID-19 deaths recorded in the province all year.

"We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic," Henry and Dix said in a joint written statement.

Many of the latest victims were seniors living in care facilities, where staff have struggled to keep the coronavirus at bay during B.C.'s second wave of the pandemic.

There have been encouraging signs that the province's strict-but-temporary restrictions are slowly helping to decrease case numbers, however.

B.C.'s rolling seven-day average peaked at 804 cases per day on Nov. 28, and has since come down to a daily average of 578.

Tuesday's increase of 444 also marks the first time since Nov. 5 that the province has recorded fewer than 450 cases in a day.

The number of active cases has dropped to 9,481, from a record high of 10,039 last week, while hospitalizations have remained relatively stable. There were 357 patients in hospital on Tuesday, including 84 in intensive care.

Doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine have also been delivered to every health authority in B.C. Officials said 4,108 doses have been distributed so far. Henry received her shot earlier on Tuesday in front of news cameras on Vancouver Island.

"It’s really my way of showing how confident we are in the vaccine and how important it is for all of us to be immunized," she said.

Officials have not revealed when members of the general public can expect to be immunized. In the meantime, Henry and Dix noted that community transmission of COVID-19 "continues to occur across our province, which means the risk remains high for all of us."

"Even if you have been doing all you can to protect yourself and those around you, it is important to know the symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested if symptoms develop," they said.

“In particular, if you develop a cough, a loss of sense of smell or taste, fever or chills, or have difficulty breathing, contact your health-care professional or call 811 to get tested right away."

Testing sites will be open over the holiday, according to the government.

Health officials also announced three new outbreaks, including two at Surrey Memorial Hospital. One was detected in the rehabilitation unit at Laurel Place, while a separate outbreak was detected in an acute care unit.

The third is a community outbreak at Highline Farms in the Lower Mainland.

B.C. has now recorded 47,510 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the crisis. Roughly three-quarters of those infected – or 36,094 people – have recovered.