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The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is issuing this health advisory to provide health care providers with an update to the laboratory testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
COVID-19 testing is now available from at least one commercial laboratory, with additional laboratories expected to begin to offer testing over the next several days. Testing is still available through the Delaware Public Health Laboratory. Use only synthetic fiber swabs with plastic shafts. Do not use calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts, as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing. Place swabs immediately into sterile tubes containing 2-3 ml of viral transport media. NP and OP specimens may be kept in separate vials or combined at collection into a single vial.
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. Clinicians are strongly encouraged to test for other causes of respiratory illness, including infections such as influenza. For guidance on how to submit to a commercial laboratory, refer to the guidance the commercial laboratories provide as they come online.
Most patients with confirmed COVID-19 have developed fever and/or symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., cough, difficulty breathing). Priorities for testing may include:
Initially, laboratory testing was only available via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention upon request by DPH. DPH’s State Lab began testing for the disease on Monday March 4, 2020. Testing at the State Lab still requires DPH approval. Testing at commercial labs does not require DPH approval; however, if there is a strong clinical suspicion of COVID-19, clinicians should call 1-888-295-5156 to consult with DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, or report through email@example.com, within 24 hours of submission of test samples to a commercial lab, to allow for surveillance and monitoring as appropriate.
For a complete list of CDC’s clinical resources, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
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