In the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, Island Health is opening a new referrals-only screening clinic for COVID-19 in Victoria.

This clinic has been launched in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control as a response to the growing numbers of people needing to be tested for novel coronavirus.

See also: B.C. announces seven new cases of COVID-19, advises against non-essential travel outside Canada

The health authority reiterates that the risk of COVID-19 in British Columbia and on Vancouver Island remains low at this time.

As such, all screenings done at the new clinic 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.

“If you feel you are experiencing symptoms (such as new fever, dry cough, difficulty breathing) please contact your primary care provider or call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 to be assessed,” reads a statement from Island Health.

“People living in the Victoria region who are assessed as requiring follow-up will be directed to call the clinic. A triage nurse at the clinic will then assess referred patients over the phone to determine if an appointment for testing is needed.”

The health authority is also working to open similar referral-only screening clinics in Nanaimo, Campbell River, and Comox Valley, among other parts of Vancouver Island.

So far, there is only one case of COVID-19 in Victoria – a 63-year-old man who returned from travelling in Egypt, and is recovering at home in isolation.

In light of the evolving situation with the global coronavirus pandemic, the health ministry is officially advising British Columbians against all non-essential travel outside of Canada, including to the United States.

Those who do choose to travel against this advice will be asked to self isolate from school or work for 14 days upon their return to Canada.

The B.C. Ministry of Health has also directed all event organizations in the province to cancel any events that involve gatherings of 250 people or more, causing multiple major events to announce postponements or cancellations.

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.

Authorities are expected to provide their daily COVID-19 update for B.C. at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.

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