VANCOUVER -- For the first time since the B.C. government began publishing weekly geographic data on COVID-19 infections last December, the per-capita case rate in Surrey has dropped below five cases per 100,000 residents.

The weekly case map published Wednesday on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website shows the number of new coronavirus cases recorded in each of the province's "local health areas" during the week of June 6 to 12. 

During that period, the local health area that includes most of the City of Surrey saw a total of 172 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19. That's equivalent to fewer than five new cases per 100,000 residents, the lowest per-capita case range shown on the map, other than zero.

Surrey has long been at the centre of the COVID-19 pandemic in B.C., routinely accounting for the largest number of new cases of any local health area, as well as the highest per-capita caseload.

Between January 2020 and May 31 of this year, Surrey saw a total of 37,158 coronavirus cases, or more than 25 per cent of the 144,289 cases recorded across the entire province as of that date.

Neighbourhood-level data first leaked in May and later released publicly by the BCCDC showed that, within Surrey, it was specifically central, northern and western areas that had the highest rates of COVID-19 transmission. 

The most recent neighbourhood-level data published on the BCCDC's COVID-19 surveillance dashboard shows that disparities within Surrey persist, but every neighbourhood was in the less-than-five-cases-per-100,000-residents category between June 8 and 14. 

Surrey's per-capita total on the latest map puts it at a lower rate of COVID-19 transmission than several other regions of the province, including the Abbotsford and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows local health areas in the Lower Mainland, which each saw between five and 10 cases per 100,000 residents during the week shown on the map.

Elsewhere in B.C., there was only one local health area that saw more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents between June 6 and 12: The Windermere region in Interior Health.

That local health area saw a total of eight new infections during the week in question, but its small population means the per-capita case rate is the highest in B.C. on the latest map.

The declining number of coronavirus cases in B.C. reflects growing immunity in communities around the province. As of June 14, according to the BCCDC dashboard, there were only two local health areas in B.C. where fewer than half of residents ages 12 and older had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Those regions, Peace River North and South, have 47 and 48 per cent first-dose vaccination rates, respectively. Looking only at adults ages 18 and older, the rate in both areas rises to 50 per cent.

Province-wide, nearly 75 per cent of people ages 12 and older have received at least a first shot, as have more than 76 per cent of adults.

The BCCDC dashboard offers reasons for caution, however, with several regions seeing significant jumps in per-capita case rates in recent weeks.

The largest increases were in Interior Health, where the Kootenay Lake region saw 15 cases per 100,000 residents from June 8 to 14, up from zero cases per 100,000 the week before.

The rate also increased significantly in Merritt (from zero to 10 per 100,000), Windermere (from five to 10) and South Cariboo (from zero to eight).

Elsewhere, at least one local health area in each of B.C.'s five health authorities has seen its per-capita caseload increase in recent weeks, despite the downward trajectory of the province's overall numbers.