VICTORIA -- British Columbia reached another grim milestone in its battle with the COVID-19 pandemic Friday as the province announced a record-setting 617 new cases of the coronavirus.

The announcement represents the highest daily case count since the pandemic began, breaking the previous record set just one day prior with 594 new cases on Thursday.

Health officials also announced Friday that two more people have died of COVID-19, bringing B.C.’s death toll from the disease to 290.

There are now 5,579 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C., including 167 people in hospital, which is also a record high. There are now 50 people in intensive care with the disease.

The province has identified 20,985 cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. An additional 12,016 people are currently under active public health monitoring due to exposure to known cases of the highly contagious disease.

The vast majority of the 617 new cases reported Friday are located in the Lower Mainland, with 424 in the Fraser Health region and 130 in Vancouver Coastal Health.

Elsewhere in B.C., there have been 42 additional cases recorded in Interior Health over the last 24 hours, as well as 16 cases in Island Health and five in the Northern Health region.

There are now 67 active cases of COVID-19 in the Island Health region, including 2 people who are receiving intensive care.

Twenty-five of the cases are located in South Vancouver Island, 27 are in Central Vancouver Island and 15 are currently active in North Vancouver Island, according to Island Health.

Since the pandemic began, the Island Health region has confirmed 340 cases of COVID-19.

The health ministry announced three COVID-19 outbreaks at B.C. health-care facilities Friday. The new outbreaks are at Sun Pointe Village in Kelowna, the Capilano Care Centre in West Vancouver and Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge in Richmond.

There are currently 35 active outbreaks at long-term care and assisted living facilities, and six outbreaks at B.C. acute-care centres.

The ministry reported no new community outbreaks Friday, but warned that recent COVID-19 case modelling shows B.C. is at a “critical time” in its handling of the pandemic.

“When faced with a resurgence of COVID-19, it can be difficult to muster the strength to keep moving forward,” said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix in a statement. “Yet British Columbians continue to show unwavering resilience and fortitude to support friends and neighbours in our communities and take care of those who are most at risk.”

The health officials urged British Columbians to limit travel and social gatherings this weekend, particularly around Diwali festivities, and connect virtually instead.

“Now is the time for everyone, right across our province, to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19, to be leaders by working together with a common purpose to push our curve back down,” Dix and Henry said.

The plea comes a day after modelling data showed the number of cases has doubled every 13 days in the past few weeks, making it harder for contact tracers to keep up and break the chains of transmission.

A total of 14,901 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have since recovered.