Advice for couriers

All of NSW Health (including our NSW Health Pathology colleagues) maintains high infection control standards across its network with staff well trained to care for people with infectious diseases and prevent transmission of the infection to other patients.

We recognise this is an unprecedented time and the situation is changing rapidly. Thank you for your ongoing commitment to helping ensure patients samples are delivered to our labs.

The work you do to get samples to our laboratories for testing and diagnosis is vital to helping us manage and control the infection and support our community.

We remind you to follow essential infection control procedures when retrieving and transporting COVID-19 specimens and be extra vigilant to maintain regular hand hygiene when collecting COVID-19 samples.

Hand sanitiser is available at various points on entry to clinics, collection centres, laboratories and hospitals and must be used regularly.

Nursing staff at hospitals have been advised to isolate patients that meet clinical criteria for COVID-19.

Questions or concerns should be raised with managers and speak with your NSW Health Pathology lab colleagues about any of the packing advice below.

Transporting specimens to designated NSWHP testing laboratories

All our laboratory staff responsible for packing samples for transport are fully trained and assessed in the packaging of pathology samples, as per IATA 650 requirements.  

COVID-19 samples are classed as “Biological Samples” Category B.

Refer to the NPAAC standard for Requirements for the Packaging and Transport of Pathology Specimens for further clarification.

Our lab staff should pack these samples (not limited to COVID-19) with triple packaging using the following components

(a) a primary receptacle(s) – for COVID-19 samples this is the UTM viral transport swab;

(b) a secondary packaging - for COVID-19 samples this is a clear biohazard bag

(c) a rigid outer packaging – for COVID-19 samples this is esky.

Our couriers then place the packaged samples in either a singlet bag or esky for safe transfer to the vehicle. Once at the vehicle, the samples are placed in the 12v fridge or chilled / refrigerated esky.

In the event a sample does not meet the above packing requirements, please notify NSW Health Pathology laboratory staff onsite.

At the end of each shift, our courier vehicles should also be sanitised with thorough cleaning of hard surfaces such as steering wheel, gear lever, indicator arms and fridge.

Please speak to your manager if you have any questions, and stay up to date her or at  and

Download a pdf copy of this advice here. (PDF 86.3KB)

Contact Paul March NSW Health Pathology Transport Manager for more
02 9464 4754