VICTORIA -- A new referral-only COVID-19 screening clinic has opened in Nanaimo.

According to Island Health, the clinic started taking appointments as of today, Wednesday.

Health officials are asking residents not to attend or call the screening clinic unless referred there by a primary care provider or an 811 HealthLink BC nurse.

If someone has been referred to the screening clinic, a triage nurse with the clinic will assess the referred patient over the phone to decide if an appointment for that person at the clinic is necessary.

Meanwhile, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reminding residents that not everyone needs to be tested for the novel coronavirus.

The BCCDC says that the only people who need to take a COVID-19 test are people who have symptoms of a respiratory illness and who are:

  • Hospitalized, or likely to be hospitalized
  • Health-care workers
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • Part of an investigation of a cluster or outbreak

Anyone without flu symptoms, or who has mild respiratory symptoms that can be managed on their own at home, including people who have recently returned to Canada with an onset of illness within 14 days, does not need to seek testing.

The only exception for testing is for health care workers with possible COVID-19 infections that require a negative test result to return to work.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing, can try using the B.C. government’s online self-assessment tool, or contact a primary care provider or call HealthLink BC at 811.

A COVID-19 referral-only screening clinic opened in Victoria earlier this week. Island Health says that more screening clinics are expected to open in other communities of the island.

“The situation is evolving quickly and our strategies are evolving to keep people in the communities we serve safe,” said Island Health on Wednesday.