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​For the qualitative detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in patients suspected to have acute COVID-19 infection.

Specimen Required

  1. Upper respiratory tract specimen (for patients with upper respiratory tract symptoms)
    • Nasopharyngeal swab
    • Oropharyngeal (throat) swab
    • Nasal (anterior nares or mid-turbinate) swab
    • Combination of Nasopharyngeal and Oropharyngeal swab (place both swab sheaths in same specimen bag)
    • Combination of nasal and oropharyngeal swab (collected using the same dacron swab)

      Please note that swabs must be sent DRY in swab sheath. Please use only flocked swabs or Dacron/rayon-tipped swabs with plastic shafts. Cotton-tipped swabs with wooden shafts will be rejected.

  2. Lower respiratory tract specimen (for patients with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome
    • Sputum
    • Endotracheal aspirate (ETTA)
    • Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)

  3. Other sample types
    • Blood
    • Saliva

Respiratory samples must be collected with full respiratory protection such as N95 masks or powered air-purifying respirators.

Please put specimens into specimen bags. Specimens from high risk patients should be double-bagged. Place the specimen/s in a hard, waterproof and airtight secondary container. The container has to be hand-delivered to the Molecular Laboratory, Level 12, Diagnostics Tower, Academia (during opening hours) or to Client and Specimen Management (CSM) Section outside Molecular Laboratory opening hours.

Storage and Transport

​Specimens should be kept cool and can be transported at 18-25oC to the testing laboratory if the total storage and transport time at 18-25oC does not exceed one hour. Otherwise, specimen should be refrigerated and transported cooled (2-8oC) and to reach the testing laboratory within 48 hours of collection.


​Reverse transcription real time polymerase chain reaction (either Roche COBAS® SARS-CoV-2 assay or in-house developed).

Test Results

​Detected, Not Detected, Inconclusive, Presumptive Positive

Reference Interval / Value

Turnaround Time

​24 hours

Day(s) Test Set up

​Mondays to Sundays


Change History Notes



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