This guidance is to support those working in sampling and laboratory investigations. This guidance covers:

  • sample collection for PCR testing
  • clinical indications for serology testing
  • protocol for reporting SARS-CoV-2 PCR positives during periods of low prevalence
  • results of testing
  • guidance for microbiologists and virologists

Further resources

The following resources are available on our workforce educational resources page.

Sampling and Testing for COVID-19

We have produced a short video clip to support colleagues required to obtain an upper respiratory tract diagnostic sample.

This resource describes the techniques involved in obtaining an upper respiratory tract COVID-19 diagnostic sample and covers the:

  • options available in relation to COVID-19 upper respiratory tract samples
  • technique involved in obtaining a nose swab
  • technique involved in obtaining a throat swab

Packaging of diagnostic samples for onward transportation

View a guidance video showing the correct way to package samples from suspected COVID-19 patients for Category B transport, in line with UN3373 requirements.

Media enquiries

If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

Requesting other formats and reporting issues

If you require publications or documents in other formats, please email

To report any issues with a publication, please email

Last updated: 11 April 2022
Was this page helpful?