Coronaviruses are important human and animal pathogens. At the end of 2019, a novel coronavirus was identified as the cause of a cluster of pneumonia cases in Hubei Province, Wuhan, China. Its rapid spread, resulted in an epidemic throughout China, followed by a global pandemic. In February 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated the disease COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). The virus that causes COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2); previously referred to as 2019-nCoV.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 are like those found with illnesses such as a cold or influenza.
* new or worsening cough
* sneezing and runny nose
* temporary loss of smell or altered sense of taste
* sore throat
* shortness of breath
* fatigue/feeling of tiredness
Less common symptoms of COVID-19 may include diarrhoea, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, malaise, chest pain, abdominal pain, joint pain or confusion/irritability. These almost always occur with one or more of the common symptoms.
Symptoms tend to arise around two to five days after a person has been infected but can take up to 14 days to show. The virus can be passed onto others before they know they have it – from up to two days before symptoms develop.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants emerge and persist so testing strategy evolves also. For the most up to date information, please refer to the COVID-19 Information Portal on Te Whatu Ora PRISM site.
Microbiology - Virology
There are different pathways for COVID testing based on clinical presentation, patient vulnerability and admission requirements. Please refer to the Te Whatu Ora PRISM COVID-19 Information Portal for the Respiratory virus streaming guide and guidelines for Admission Testing and Flow Pathways.
Critical pathway is <2 hours for results
Fast Track is 3-4 hours for results
Non-hospital requests are available within 24 hours
The preferred sample for Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR is a nasopharyngeal swab in virus transport medium.
Collection packs can be requested by emailing LabInfo@cdhb.health.nz
Lower respiratory tract specimens (sputum or BAL) may also be tested.
Saliva is acceptable if other samples are unable to be collected. For information about collection please refer to the guide below.
Ambient (8 - 24 degrees Celsius)
If overnight - Chilled (2 - 8 degrees Celsius)
Patient specimen swab in virus transport medium
Nucleic acid extraction and SARS-CoV-2 RNA PCR.
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