VICTORIA -- Provincial health officials identified 12 new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.

The new cases were among 357 cases found across British Columbia over the past 24 hours.

The province has now confirmed 140,953 cases since the pandemic began, including 4,983 in the Vancouver Island region.

Three more people in B.C. have died of COVID-19, health officials announced Thursday, bringing the province’s pandemic death toll to 1,653.

None of the recent deaths were in the Vancouver Island region, where the pandemic has killed 40 people.

There are currently 163 active cases in the island region, including 10 people in hospital and three more in critical care.

Island Health identified the locations of 121 active cases Thursday, including 35 cases in the South Island, 53 in the Central Island and 33 in the North Island.

Premier John Horgan joined provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix for the announcement Thursday.

The premier cautioned all British Columbians against gatherings and travel this long weekend.

“There are provincial health orders in place, there are travel restrictions in place – not to the beginning of the long weekend but to the end of the long weekend,” Horgan said.

The premier said he will again join Dix and Henry on Tuesday to announce the province’s reopening plans after the current restrictions expire.

“It’s a positive plan,” Horgan said. “People will be excited about it, but let’s get through this weekend. It’s so critically important.”

The premier declined to reveal further details about the restart plan but said British Columbians who are hoping to travel, attend faith gatherings or play outdoor sports this summer will be encouraged by the outlook.

“We’re confident that come July, we’re going to be in a much better place,” Horgan said. “On Tuesday we’ll lay out that roadmap and I think that it’ll be positively received by the vast majority of British Columbians and I’m confident that they can wait a few more days.”

Henry said any changes announced Tuesday will be gradual. “While we’ve talked about the future, nothing is going to be back to 100 per cent on Tuesday,” Henry said. “It’s not going to be a light switch. It’s going to be a dimmer switch.”

The province has now administered 2,687,360 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, including 138,906 secondary doses. Those numbers amount to approximately 58 per cent of B.C. adults having received a first dose, and three per cent with a second dose.

Everyone in B.C. who is 12 and older can now book an appointment to receive a vaccine. Henry said the 310,000 British Columbians who are between the ages of 12 and 17 will receive a Pfizer vaccine.

“Currently it is only the Pfizer vaccine that’s licensed for use in children,” Henry said, adding that officials are hopeful the Moderna vaccine will soon be approved for children too.

More information on B.C.'s vaccines for children is available here