VANCOUVER -- Health officials in British Columbia announced 648 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, marking the biggest single-day jump in infections since Jan. 7.

The latest identified infections also pushed the province's active caseload above 5,000 for the first time since Jan. 12. There were no deaths related to COVID-19 to report.

The update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix followed one day after they announced a loosening of some of the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place since November.

British Columbians are now allowed to gather in groups of up to 10 people, but only outside. In a written statement, Henry and Dix urged people to "socialize safely" as they come together again after being apart for months.

"This means if you or a family member is higher risk, you may choose to delay your visit or ensure you are wearing your masks and maintaining a safe distance. It also means continuing to clean your hands and staying away if you are feeling unwell," they said.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is still here, and we are still facing headwinds, which means continuing with ‘few faces, open spaces and safety layers’ in place."

B.C. has now recorded a total of 86,867 cases of COVID-19 and 1,397 related deaths since the start of the pandemic. There are 5,070 active cases with 255 patients in hospital, 67 of whom are in intensive care.

Everyone else with a confirmed case of COVID-19 is recovering at home in self-isolation, officials said.

Two more outbreaks have been declared, at Oceana Parc and Ridge Meadows Hospital.

Henry and Dix also announced another 79 confirmed cases involving variants of concern, bringing the province's total to 717. That includes 667 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant associated with the U.K., 36 of the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa and 14 of the P.1 variant associated with Brazil.

"Of the total cases, 99 are active and the remaining people have recovered," Henry and Dix said.

During a modelling presentation on Thursday, Henry indicated that around 10 per cent of the new cases being discovered in B.C. involve a variant of concern. While that's much lower than Ontario's variant rate of about 40 per cent, Henry said B.C.'s variant cases are increasing.

B.C. has administered another 13,952 doses of vaccine since Thursday's update, bringing the provincial total to 380,743, including 87,024 second doses. About 5.7 per cent of the province's population has now received at least one dose of vaccine.

As of Thursday, anyone over the age of 85 and Indigenous people over the age of 65 can book a vaccine appointment.

Of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in B.C., about 92 per cent – or 80,325 people – have recovered.