Collection procedures

Our dedicated colleagues across the state are a vital part of the NSW and international response to COVID-19 disease.  

The COVID-19 clinics are listed here and private testing collection centres are here

You can find a complete summary of the collection procedures we currently use below with links to our most recent advice for more information. You can also find out more about the testing we use here. 

 Clinical Situation  Procedure Efficacy Summary
For all patients and all diagnostic scenarios including community spread Deep nose and throat swabs

Secures the best outcome with, proportionately, the highest number of true positives

Long experience in community. Well documented validation.

Confronting and uncomfortable for some patients (especially if repeated regularly)

For high risk occupational surveillance screening 

Saliva 

Lower Sensitivity, ≈ 80%, which is only compensated for with high frequency repeat testing

Any non-negative test must proceed to deep nose and throat swabs

Faster sampling method with HCW supervising multiple clients

Minimises traumatic collection in those groups requiring frequent/serial screening.

Easier option for self-collection

 For children 

Oral swab (if only one site is likely to be accessible)

The analytic sensitivity remains high but the sample adequacy may limit the test sensitivity 

A single site swab may be the only reasonable, accessible protocol in young or significantly disabled children. If this is attempted then the nasal or oral component of the combined swab may be undertaken, but note that this will yield less consistent and sensitive results than using combined sampling.

Single site sampling 

Self-collected swabs are likely to be somewhat less sensitive than the recommended healthcare worker collected upper respiratory tract swabs.  You can read NSW Health Pathology’s clinical recommendations here. (PDF 97.2KB)