VICTORIA -- One person has died of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island and B.C. health officials have identified 26 more cases of the disease Wednesday.

The cases were among 414 new cases confirmed across B.C. over the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 16 more people in B.C. have died of COVID-19, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,234.

“We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a joint statement.

The Island Health region has now recorded 1,728 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 273 active cases in the Vancouver Island region.

Island Health has identified the location of 228 of the active cases. The majority, 167, continue to be found in the Central Island. Meanwhile, there are 54 active cases in the South Island and 7 active cases in the North Island.

Fifteen people are currently in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, and another five are receiving critical care.

Since the pandemic began, 20 people have died of COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, while 1,423 people have recovered.

Health officials continue to urge British Columbians and businesses to follow provincial health orders, particularly as COVID-19 variants make their way through the province.

B.C.’s top doctor pointed to a single case of the U.K. variant appearing at a Garibaldi Secondary School in the Lower Mainland.

While the single case of the variant was detected in the school community, that person has since recovered and there is no more risk of exposure, say health officials.

“Eighty-one students and eight educators were also tested and all are negative,” said Henry and Dix.

“We know the COVID-19 variants make things more challenging as the virus is more likely to spread quickly, which is why we all need to continue to make safe choices,” said the pair. “Until the COVID-19 vaccines are available for all of us, let’s choose less and choose small. This is the path to get to the brighter days ahead.”

To alleviate a sense of isolation and to maintain mental health, health officials recommend meeting with friends in low-risk setting, such as during a walk.

Henry is expected to provide an update on current health orders, which place restrictions on social interactions, on Friday.

As of Wednesday, B.C. had administered 142,146 COVID-19 vaccine doses, 6,417 of which were second doses.