VANCOUVER -- British Columbia recorded another 1,478 cases of COVID-19 and eight related deaths over the weekend, health officials said Monday.

The province has now seen a total of 80,672 coronavirus infections and 1,363 fatalities since the start of the pandemic.

In a joint written statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix offered condolences to "everyone who has lost loved ones to COVID-19."

B.C. identified 532 of its latest cases from Friday to Saturday, followed by 508 from Saturday to Sunday and 438 from Sunday to Monday.

The province has now recorded an average of 500 cases per day over the last week. As of Feb. 17, the weekly average was at 407 per day.

Health officials also confirmed 42 new cases involving "variants of concern." The province has now recorded 158 such cases, including 137 of the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the U.K. and 21 cases of the B.1.351 variant associated with South Africa.

Only 10 of the identified variant cases are currently active.

Another 1,588 people also recovered from the disease over the weekend, leaving B.C. with 4,464 active cases – a drop of about 200 from Friday. That includes 236 patients in hospital, 65 of whom are in intensive care.

Henry and Dix also announced four new outbreaks, at Glacier View Lodge, Chilliwack General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital. Seven others, including the latest outbreak at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, have been declared over.

The latest update followed hours after B.C. health officials launched Phase 2 of the province's immunization program, and announced a new appointment registration system starting on March 8.

They also revealed the province is extending the interval between doses to four months, which officials said will allow the province to potentially vaccinate every eligible and interested B.C. resident by the end of July – a much more optimistic timeline than the previous one.

Henry and Dix also credited the shorter timeline on Health Canada's approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which they said will mean "more people will be vaccinated more quickly."

"Every day we are one step closer to widespread community immunity and post-pandemic life. Let’s ensure we are continuing with our efforts until we get there," they said in their statement.

The province has now administered 275,681 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 83,777 second doses.


Correction: A previous version of this story reported that 1,410 cases had been identified over the weekend, based on numbers from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 dashboard. A total of 1,478 cases were identified over the weekend.