VANCOUVER -- Two more people have died from COVID-19 in British Columbia, the first time more than one such death has been recorded in a 24-hour period since May.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix announced the deaths at their update on the province's coronavirus pandemic response Thursday.

The deaths bring the death toll in the province to 173 since the pandemic began. Both Dix and Henry offered their condolences to the families and caregivers of the deceased, both of whom were residents of long-term care facilities, one in the Fraser Health region and one in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Health officials also announced 20 additional cases of the virus, including 19 new test-positive cases and one epidemiologically linked case. There have now been 2,869 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in B.C.

Among the new cases reported Thursday was a teacher working in the Fraser Health region, Henry said, adding that all of the teacher's close contacts have been notified and no students have been exposed.

"We anticipated and planned for this potential when we returned to some in-classroom teaching over the last month here in B.C., and we've been monitoring the situation very closely along with all of the school districts and the Ministry of Education, and we've moved quickly when cases have been identified," Henry said.

The provincial health officer said the teacher contracted the virus from a social interaction outside the school environment. There were no "exposure events" at the school, Henry said.

The teacher is the second adult associated with a school to test positive for COVID-19 since in-classroom learning resumed on a voluntary basis on June 1.

Henry noted that Thursday was the last day of in-class learning in the province, and she thanked students, teachers and parents for participating in what she called "a trial by fire" in adapting to a new way of learning necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It hasn't always been easy for everybody," Henry said. "I really just want to commend everybody for persevering, for working together, for making in-class teaching in these past weeks both possible and safe."

There are 179 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, including 15 people who are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care.

Thursday's numbers come on the heels of Premier John Horgan's announcement Wednesday that the province has entered Phase 3 of its restart plan, permitting non-essential travel locally. 

The provincial health officer described the beginning of Phase 3 as an "exciting time" for B.C., but cautioned that residents and visitors need to continue to be aware of the virus and the things they can do to limit its transmission.

"As we travel more, we are going to have more cases, and what we need to do is make sure we have those measures in place so that we can stop the transmission quickly and rapidly and make sure it's not spread to large numbers of people," Henry said.

There have been no new outbreaks of COVID-19 in B.C. in the last 24 hours, Henry and Dix said. That leaves seven ongoing outbreaks at health-care facilities - six long-term care homes and one hospital acute care unit - and two ongoing "community outbreaks."

A total of 2,517 people who have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in B.C. have now fully recovered from the virus.