VICTORIA -- Island Health has announced the opening of a new and expanded COVID-19 testing site in Nanaimo.

The Vancouver Island University campus on Fifth Street hosts a larger and more weather-ready drive-thru collection site.

According to Island Health, the VIU campus location is replacing a testing site on Grant Avenue. 

The new location will double the drive-thru capacity of the former site and also provide a heated outdoor workspace for medical staff. 

Nanaimo is part of the Central Island region, where statistics show the largest number of COVID-19 cases on the island. 

The region has seen a dramatic surge in cases over the past month and is outpacing more populated areas when it comes to active cases. 

Island Health officials have blamed much of the spread on parties and family gatherings. 

The new testing site at VIU is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Anyone with cold-, flu- or COVID-19-like symptoms is eligible for a test, but must book an appointment first. 

People with symptoms can call 1-844-901-8442 and expect to hear back from an Island Health representative within 24 hours to schedule a test.

The new Nanaimo location is offering the updated mouth rinse and gargle tests.