VANCOUVER -- British Columbia has reported another 522 cases of COVID-19 and 21 more deaths, along with a record-high number of hospitalizations from the disease.

Tuesday's update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix brings the total number of infections identified in B.C. since the start of the pandemic to 43,463, and the death toll to 668.

"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.

While B.C.'s active cases dropped slightly to 9,860, after topping 10,000 for the first time on Monday, the number of patients in hospital increased to a new high of 361. That includes 93 patients in intensive care, which is also a record for B.C.

Another 10,768 people in B.C. are under active health monitoring after being exposed to a known case of COVID-19.

Health officials announced one new health-care outbreak at Burnaby Hospital, where a previous outbreak was declared over just days earlier, and a new community outbreak at Teck Resources' Elkview and Fording River operations.

Another outbreak at Langley Memorial Hospital's long-term care facility has ended.

Henry and Dix noted that B.C. began giving out its first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, calling it a "momentous day" for the province.

But it's expected to take many more months for the vaccine to reach everyone who wants it, and officials stressed the need to continue following pandemic safety precautions and B.C.'s public health orders in the meantime.

"Even as we look to brighter days ahead, we must remember that the pandemic is far from over," they said.

"No one wants to experience the tragedy of losing a loved one when this day of hope is upon us. So let's make Dec. 15 a day for doing all we can to protect our communities and the people we care for most."

Of the approximately 43,000 cases of COVID-19 identified in B.C. so far, 31,866 people have fully recovered.