Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
The information provided below is current as of March 13, 2020.
Under the guidance of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sonic Healthcare USA (SHUSA) laboratories are closely monitoring the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak caused by SARS-CoV-2. Our priority is the health and safety of our employees, patients and the communities we serve. We encourage you to periodically check this webpage for updates.
SRL is honored to launch testing for COVID-19 as of March 10th, 2020. This test is to be performed only using respiratory specimens collected from individuals who meet CDC clinical and/or epidemiological criteria for COVID-19 testing. Patient Service Centers and phlebotomy sites cannot collect specimens for this test.
Patients, please do not go to SRL for COVID-19 testing as these sites do not collect specimens for the COVID-19 test. Contact your healthcare provider for information about collection options.
Providers should not refer any patients suspected (persons under investigation) or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 to SRL or other phlebotomy sites.
SRL will continue to provide test services for patients suspected (persons of interest) specimens collected in appropriate healthcare settings, such as physician offices and hospitals.
Imported cases have been identified in the U.S. According to the CDC:
- Some international destinations now have apparent community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- No vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19 is currently available.
Interim Guidance from the CDC for Healthcare Providers:
- Infection control procedures are necessary to prevent infections from spreading during healthcare delivery. COVID-19 Infection Control recommendations provided by the CDC may be accessed at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/hcp/infection-control.html
- For initial diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, CDC recommends collecting and testing upper respiratory tract specimens (nasopharyngeal AND oropharyngeal swabs).
- In considering whether a patient represents a person under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19, healthcare providers should immediately notify infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and their local or state health department. Use links below:
- Local health department: https://www.naccho.org/membership/lhd-directory
- State health department: https://www.cste.org/page/StateEpi
- PUI documentation: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/pui-form.pdf
- Laboratory testing for other pathogens from PUIs (including testing for influenza, RSV, respiratory pathogen panel, etc.) should not be delayed. In order to provide adequate infection control, please notify Sonic Reference Laboratory in advance of sending specimens from a PUI for COVID-19. A separate specimen(s) will be required.
Criteria to Guide Evaluation of Patients Under Investigation (PUI) for COVID-19
- As the availability of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 increases through clinical laboratories performing molecular diagnostic (nucleic acid-amplification tests) tests authorized by the US FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), testing will be offered to a wider group of symptomatic patients.
- Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as the clinical course of illness. Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed a fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza.
- Epidemiologic factors that may help guide decisions on whether to test include: any persons, including healthcare workers, who have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, or a history of travel from a geographic area with the ongoing transmission (see list above) within 14 days of symptom onset.
- State and local health authorities may assist or guide clinicians in PUI identification, evaluation, and testing.
- Clinicians will also be able to access laboratory testing through public health laboratories in their jurisdictions.
For additional information, please use links given below:
- Clinical criteria: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/clinical-criteria.html
- Evaluation of exposed staff: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html
- Infection control in healthcare settings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/infection-control/control-recommendations.html
The COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly evolving, and we will continue to monitor the situation and update you as new information becomes available.