Health and safety when collecting COVID-19 samples and processing them in the laboratory

The health and safety of patients, healthcare workers and laboratory scientists needs to be the priority. Reducing the risk of exposure is vital and therefore PPE should be worn when in contact with a potentially infected individual, and when processing samples. 

The WHO’s current recommendation for working with COVID-19 samples in a laboratory is that all samples should be processed in at least a BSL2 laboratory, within a microbiological safety cabinet. If you are culturing SARS-CoV-2, this must be done within a BSL3 laboratory.

WHO biosafety laboratory guidance (this document explains the WHO requirements for each of the different biosafety levels e.g. BSL1, 2, 3 and 4).

CDC interim laboratory biosafety guidelines regarding the use of PPE.

CDC interim guidelines for collecting, handling, and testing clinical specimens for COVID-19.

UK government guidance on COVID-19 laboratory practice.