Update 2: SARS-CoV-2 testing at the NVRL

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Dear Colleagues

As the demand for SARS-CoV-2 testing increases the NVRL is rationalising resources in order to prioritise our response to the COVID-19 epidemic. This notification is to inform you of arrangements for SARS-CoV-2 testing and of changes to the regular NVRL service which are required to facilitate the timely reporting of suspect COVID-19 cases. It is envisaged that additional capacity for testing will also be available in regional hospital laboratories over the coming weeks.

SARS-CoV-2 testing

  • The turnaround time for SARS-CoV-2 test results is 24 hours from receipt at the NVRL. Only positive results will be communicated to the requesting clinician.
  • Negative test results will be reported electronically (including weekends) and will NOT be telephoned.
  • Where possible please send samples for SARS-CoV-2 testing with a MediBRIDGE 2D request form.
  • There is no requirement to notify the NVRL in advance of sending samples. If submitting swab samples please ensure that only one sample (preferably containing both a nasal and throat swab) per patient is submitted.  This will reduce the time necessary to process the samples and maximise capacity in the system.
  • A lower respiratory sample, when applicable, is the preferred sample for SARS-CoV-2 investigations. When a secretory sample is available there is no requirement to send an accompanying swab sample.

 Changes to the other NVRL tests

  • In order to provide a timely result additional testing for other respiratory viruses on samples submitted for SARS-CoV-2 testing will only be performed on request from the referring clinician.
  • From 9th March the turnaround time for results of gastroenteritis and genital herpes investigations will be extended and only processed twice weekly.
  • From 23rd March only urgent samples for gastroenteritis and genital herpes investigations will be tested. Please do not send routine samples to the NVRL.
  • Characterisation of clinical samples for surveillance purposes will be suspended for the next 12 weeks. This includes screening of sentinel samples for influenza and RSV and genotyping of hepatitis B and enterovirus infections.
  • Screening for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E virus infection will be performed using IgM and IgG testing of serum only.
  • Same day reporting for CMV and EBV requests arriving to the NVRL by 10 am may not be possible. The turnaround time for these samples will be 24 hours.
  • The turnaround time for other assays may be extended as the need arises.

 Please contact the laboratory by email (nvrl@ucd.ie) or telephone at 01 7164401 if you have any queries on any of the above.