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

Across the province, 617 cases of the virus were confirmed over the past 24 hours.

Four people died of COVID-19 over the same time period, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, bringing the province's death toll to 1,321.

"We offer our condolences to everyone who has lost loved ones to COVID-19," said the pair.

There are now 169 active cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region.

Island Health has identified the locations of 153 of the active cases. Forty-four are located in the South Island, 97 are active in the Central Island and 12 are located in the North Island.

No new deaths were recorded on Vancouver Island Thursday, leaving the region's death toll at 23. Eighteen people are currently in hospital for treatment of COVID-19, and seven more are receiving critical care.

The Island Health region has now recorded 2,046 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday, B.C. has administered 180,691 vaccine doses, including 29,952 second doses.

Some of those immunizations include vaccine doses that were distributed to two Vancouver Island First Nations that are emerging from COVID-19 outbreaks.

As B.C. continues to manage its vaccine rollout plan, health officials are urging British Columbians to follow provincial health guidelines, such as staying home if sick, avoiding social gatherings, wearing a mask in public and maintaining a safe distance from others.

Henry and Dix say this is particularly important in areas where cases have been trending upwards, particularly in B.C.'s Lower Mainland and Northern regions.

“We all know what we need to do. Until we have widespread vaccine availability, these small steps make a big difference in helping to keep all of us safe,” said the pair.