Update: COVID-19 / SARS-CoV-2 testing at the National Virus Reference Laboratory

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All potential cases must be discussed with a member of Public Health.


SARS-CoV-2 activity has increased significantly in the EU in recent days, leading to a significant demand for testing at NVRL. 

In addition, the Irish case definition has expanded to include Hong Kong, Iran, Italy (the four northern regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont, and Veneto), Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.  As such, demand could well increase further in the coming days and weeks.


The NVRL will increase the frequency of testing in line with demand, but to assist us in providing as efficient a service as possible, please continue to package and send samples for SARS CoV 2 testing separately. (The testing strategy is under review pending demand).

Samples must be readily identifiable for SARS-CoV-2 on arrival at the NVRL.


1. Clinical details must be provided on the request form to include the following:

Patient demographics

• Name
• Hospital or GP details

Travel History

• Country / cities of travel
• Date/s of travel
• Date of arrival in Ireland
• Any contact with confirmed or suspect cases
• Any visit to markets

Clinical history

• Date of onset and symptoms

2. Suitable Sample Types: Nasopharyngeal swab AND oropharyngeal swab (either separately or combined), nasopharyngeal aspirate, endotracheal aspirate, BAL or sputum

3. All samples will receive a seasonal respiratory virus panel and a SARS-CoV-2 specific RT-PCR.

4. Estimated turnaround time is 12 to 24 hours

5. Daily testing.Samples must arrive at the NVRL by 10am


In keeping with current guidelines, these packages are opened in a restricted area allowing a streamlined process of sample preparation.

Informing the lab in advance is imperative.  Information regarding requests can be by telephone to our clinical line (01 716 4418) or email to our healthmail account (nvrl@healthmail.ie) if that is more convenient.