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COVID-19 PCR Testing


Please note 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 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
  • Positive results are repeated on a second platform, and (for inpatients) confirmed on a second swab
  • If highly suspicious of COVID-19 but initial swabs are negative, repeat swab and request extended panel to look for other causes.
  • 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, 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)


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 (POD 2317).

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 – they will be available on Epic once complete

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


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

Specimen Labelling Procedure
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