Welcome to the Exeter Clinical Laboratory International website
NHS logo

Viral Respiratory PCR

Microbiology


Summary

Nucleic acid amplification assay (PCR) tests for the detection of one or more of the following:

  • SARS-CoV-2 (Covid)
  • Influenza A (Flu)
  • Influenza B (Seasonal Flu)
  • Respiratory Syncitial Virus (RSV).

Usage

Diagnosis of viral  respiratory infection.

Specimen

Nasopharyngeal swab

  • Please take nasopharyngeal swab as shown here.
  • 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.

Specimen container

Yellow topped Cobas swab (preferred)

Red/green topped viral swab

Special Instructions

  • For hospital patients:
    • Follow Trust guidelines as on the HUB
    • All samples need to be requested on EPIC
    • If highly suspicious of infection but initial swabs are negative, repeat swab and request an extended panel to look for other causes.
      • Only tested after agreement with a Consultant Microbiologist
  • For community/GP/Primary Care patients:
    • Flu/Covid/RSV testing NOT currently required in community cases
      • Samples received will NOT be processed
      • Please contact the laboratory to discuss with a Consultant Microbiologist prior to sending a sample if a Clinical need for testing is felt
  • Tests are selected by the laboratory using¬† information provided on the request; please state:
    • Which viruses you want us to test for, either:
      • SARS-CoV-2 Only
      • SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A & Influenza B
      • SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A, Influenza B & RSV
    • If specific viruses are not indicated clinical details and test availability may determine what is tested for
  • Patient clinical details – please include symptoms, details of foreign travel and any immunocompromise.

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

Availability

Routine test (local test)

Only during routine opening hours (POCT testing available for urgent testing of ED/Admissions Out of Hours)

Turnaround time

Urgent – within 2 hours of sample receipt (During routine opening hours)

Non-urgent – within 24 hours

Useful Links

For Patients:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing – Lab Tests Online

Coronavirus (COVID-19) – NHS

Influenza (Flu) Tests – Lab Tests Online

Flu – NHS

RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) – Lab Tests Online

Specimen Labelling Procedure
University of Exeter logo
UKAS Medical logo

9018

Royal Devon University Healthcare logo