(Island Health COVID-19 screening facility on Cook Street in Victoria/Victoria Buzz)

After opening their first COVID-19 testing facility in Victoria last week, Island Health has officially opened three additional screening clinics on Vancouver Island.

Like the one in Victoria, these clinics are referrals-only and began taking their first appointments today, Wednesday March 18th.

According to a statement from Island Health, the authority is working to open more screening facilities on Vancouver Island in the coming days.

All screenings done at the new clinics will be through referrals and by appointment.

This means only people who have been referred to the clinic by their primary care provider or an 8-1-1 nurse will be eligible to get tested there.

The latest recommendations from the BCCDC involve testing individuals with respiratory symptoms who are hospitalized or likely to be hospitalized, health care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, or part of an investigation of a cluster or outbreak.

Those who do not have symptoms or those with mild respiratory symptoms that can be managed at home (other than health care workers) will not be tested for COVID-19 at this time.

On Tuesday, B.C. launched a new website to allow people to give themselves a “self-assessment” for COVID-19.

The BC Ministry of Health says this self-assessment tool will help determine whether you may need further assessment or testing for novel coronavirus.

People can also contact their primary care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to be assessed.

Those living in a region with a screening clinic who are assessed as meeting testing criteria and requiring follow-up will be directed to call their local screening clinic.

A triage nurse at the clinic will then assess referred patients over the phone to determine if an appointment for testing is needed.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

Based on the latest updates, there are 231 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. including 16 on Vancouver Island.

The federal government recently announced an $82 billion assistance package for Canadians and businesses struggling financially during the global pandemic.

On Tuesday, B.C. joined Alberta and Ontario in declaring a public health emergency in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. Today, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency to support the health ministry’s public health emergency.

The provincial government also announced the indefinite suspension of all in-person classes at K-12 schools in B.C.

Canada has also tightened its borders and is denying entry to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada. U.S. citizens are no longer an exception to this rule.

Moreover international flights will now be restricted to international airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary.

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 218,721.

Nearly 9,000 people have died from the illness and 84,386 have made a full recovery.