VICTORIA -- B.C. health officials have identified 67 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Wednesday.

The new cases were among 997 found across the province over the past 24 hours.

Two more people have died of the virus, health officials say, bringing the province's death toll to 1,491.

The Island Health region has now reported 3,749 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are now 543 active cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region.

On Wednesday, Island Health revealed the locations of 486 active cases, including 261 in the South Island, 194 in the Central Island and 31 in the North Island.

B.C. has now confirmed 3,766 COVID-19 variant cases, 266 of which are currently active.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be ever changing, and we are also continuing to evolve and adapt our pandemic response," said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a joint statement.

"As part of this, we are actively monitoring and screening for all of the virus strains to understand how they may impact us and what additional action may be required to keep our communities safe," said the pair.

Health officials note that regardless of whether a COVID-19 variant is within a community, the same public health measures apply to protect everyone from the virus, such as physical distancing and staying home if feeling unwell.

B.C. has now administered 946,096 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 87,504 second doses.

The province's top doctor says that Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunizations has now confirmed that it is optimal to receive a second dose of vaccine up to 16 weeks after receiving a first dose.

Health officials say the four-month interval allows for more people to receive their first dose of vaccine under the province's age-based immunization program.

The province is reminding British Columbians that B.C.'s COVID-19 vaccine website is now up and running, which allows residents to book their vaccine appointments online.

As of Wednesday, anyone aged 70 or older, Indigenous people aged 18 or older, and people who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable can book their appointment online or call the B.C. immunization centre at 1-833-838-2323.