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COVID-19 PCR Testing


Please note that we do not offer a private Covid-19 testing service

COVID-19 PCR testing is performed using PCR technology (i.e. to detect the viral RNA). Test sensitivity is dictated by the amount of virus on the swab and is therefore influenced by: (1) the timing of the test in relation to the symptoms and (2) the quality of the sample (operator-dependent). A result should be interpreted in light of the pre-test probability (severity of symptoms, their level of exposure, the disease in the contact); no test is 100% sensitive or specific

• COVID-19 RNA is detected on a Nasopharyngeal swab (Yellow COBAS or Green Viral Swabs) by PCR (or BAL if on ITU; +/- sputum if initial swab is negative and high index of suspicion)
• Follow Trust guidelines as on the HUB
• All samples need to be requested on EPIC
• Send a repeat swabs after 24 hours and 5 days if highly suspicious of COVID-19 but initial swabs are negative – label accordingly so we can do additional tests
• Place swab into clear bag and then blue bag (i.e. DOUBLE bagged)

In-Patient Samples:

Samples are processed daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.


Samples will be processed in our Main Lab with a maximum 24 hour Turn-Around-Time (minimum 6 hours, usually within 9hrs)

Either send with the Porters (as with other routine specimens) or via the POD.

(To POD the sample place the double-bagged sample into the clear plastic container labelled ‘COVID Transport pot’, and put this pot into the larger Bio-Bottle (usually white with a blue top) before placing in the POD tube. Send POD tube to Old Path Lab (station: 2900); your POD tube will be returned to you.)


Samples on symptomatic patients will be processed on an ULTRA-RAPID platform (Turn-Around-Time: 1-2 hours).

Send the samples to the ED POCT Lab.

Routine Elective, Out-Patient and Staff Samples

If the sample is non-urgent (eg pre-op) or from a staff member it will be processed in the Old Path Block with a TAT of 24 hours.

(Click here for information on Symptomatic Staff Self Testing)

Results on pre-op or pre-admission samples will be reported on EPIC.

Results on staff are returned to patient by Occupational Health by telephone (or can be viewed on the My Care Patient Portal – Click here)


Please do not ring for results – we are inundated with telephone calls

(N.B. All other samples from patients need to have ?COVID in clinical details as they need to be handled separately in the lab)


SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 infections

(Key words: Coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2)

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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