VICTORIA -- Island Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) after three patients tested positive for COVID-19 this week.

The health authority says the first patient tested positive for the virus on April 12, after they began displaying symptoms.

After the test result came in, Island Health says it immediately began contact tracing and switched to more intensive cleaning practices, among other safety precautions.

In follow-up testing, two other patients tested positive for COVID-19, according to Island Health.

The health authority says the outbreak is limited to the hospital's high intensity rehab unit. Island Health has now suspended new admissions and transfers to the high intensity rehab unit, and staff movement to and from the facility has been limited.

"It is important to note that this outbreak is limited to the High Intensity Rehab Unit and no other areas of the hospital are currently affected," said Island Health in a statement Wednesday.

"The hospital is still a safe place and people should not avoid seeking emergency care if they require it."

Island Health says all other services at NRGH will continue to take place as usual. Meanwhile, all patients and staff in the high intensity rehab unit will continue to be tested for COVID-19.

The health authority says it is still in the process of contacting all patients, families and staff affected by the outbreak.