VICTORIA -- B.C. health officials announced nine new cases of COVID-19 and no more deaths related to the virus Thursday.

The updates brought the province’s total number of cases since the pandemic began to 2,632 while the total death toll remains at 166.

Twenty-six people are now in hospital for treatment of COVID-19, including six people who required intensive care.

While nine new COVID-19 cases were announced Thursday, health officials say that four of the cases are described as “epidemiologically-linked” cases, which are cases that come from people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases, but did not receive a coronavirus test.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says that these people may not have gotten tests because they weren’t available or because their symptoms were mild.

The four cases included in today’s total were recorded between May 19 and June 4 and have all since recovered. Moving forward, daily updates will include “epi-linked” cases in their totals.

According to Henry, no new outbreaks have appeared in the health-care system. However, six active outbreaks continue at long-term care homes across the province.

In total, 340 residents and 217 staff members in B.C.’s long-term care system have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, one new community outbreak has been recorded at the Beresford Warming Centre in Burnaby.

Henry says that Fraser Health staff are on site at the facility to assist with the outbreak. So far, three people in the facility have tested positive for the virus.

“We’re hopeful that transmission has been limited,” said Henry.

As of Thursday, 2,265 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, leaving 201 active cases in the province.

Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix released the latest modelling on the province’s COVID-19 cases Thursday.

The modelling suggests that British Columbians are currently travelling in the community at about 30 to 40 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels.

Henry says that British Columbians can increase their contacts to as much as 50 to 60 per cent, so long as everyone follows provincial health guidelines, such as physical distancing.

“If we do that, we’re likely to have a low number of cases and no exponential growth,” she said.

However, Henry warned that a return to contact levels of 70 per cent or higher of pre-COVID-19 levels would likely lead to a rebound of virus transmission.

Henry stressed that the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to keep social circles small, create barriers between people if possible and continue to physically distance.

B.C.’s top doctor also noted that the staggered return of students to classrooms is relatively safe at this time.

“The reopening of schools is not one of the things we expect to lead to rapid growth,” she said.

Henry added that “even if we opened all schools and had all children and relaxed all physical distancing measures” transmission of COVID-19 would remain low so long as everyone was diligent in staying home if they felt at all unwell.

With B.C. now into the second phase of its restart plan, some business owners say they are struggling to attract customers back to their stores or restaurants due to the pandemic.

Henry said that while it can be daunting to return to parts of everyday life, businesses and the provincial government have been working hard to keep reopening safe.

“I strongly endorse people going out and doing it in a safe way,” she said.

Henry added that personally, her first experience back at a restaurant was a positive one.

“It was a little bit anxiety inducing but you know what? It was great,” she said.

As of June 4, the Vancouver Coastal Health region has confirmed 909 cases of COVID-19 while the Fraser Health Region has seen at total of 1,334 cases.

Elsewhere in the province, the Island Health region has reported 130 cases, the Interior Health region has confirmed 195 cases and the Northern Health region has seen 64.