COVID-19 MDH [Non-Allina sites only]-14302

Visit the CDC or MDH website for more information as it becomes available.

Contact MDH at (651) 201-5414 (877-676-5414) for consultation and questions.

AHL respiratory panel PCR does not detect this virus, and should not be ordered.

Test info

COVID-19 MDH [Non-Allina sites only]
Novel Coronavirus

Diagnosis of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)


This test is for non-Allina Health sites only


Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab

Use only synthetic fiber swabs with plastic shafts. Do not use calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts in viral transport media (RT-UTM or M5/M4), as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing.

  1. Use the mini-tip NP swab included in the COVID-19 test kit.
  2. Tip the patient’s head back.
  3. Gently insert the NP swab into the nostril parallel to the palate (not upwards) until resistance is encountered or the distance is equivalent to that from the ear to the nostril of the patient, indicating contact with the nasopharynx.   
    1. If any resistance is met in the passageways, do not force the swab; back off and try reinserting it at a different angle, closer to the floor of the nasal canal, or try the other nostril.
  4. Gently rub and roll the swab for 10-15 seconds while the swab is in contact with the nasopharyngeal wall.
  5. The CDC recommends leaving the swab in place for several seconds to absorb secretions.
  6. Slowly remove the swab and place in the transport medium.
  7. Break the swab shaft so that it fits into the medium container and recap tightly.
  8. Label the specimen appropriately. Document the source “NP” on the label.
  9. Request that the patient reapply their mask.

New England Journal of Medicine video on NP swab collection: Nasopharyngeal Swab Collection Video


BD Universal viral transport media (UTM)

Sputum - Only collect sputum if patient has a productive cough or it is being collected for other clinical reason

Screw cap plastic container (sterile); do NOT add viral transport media



Collect only if the patient has a productive cough, or it is being collected for other clinical reasons


Screw cap plastic container (sterile)


Refrigerated (strict) - 72 hours

Ambient - NO

Frozen - OK; specimens must be frozen if they will not reach MDH within 72 hours

Specimens must arrive at MDH between 8am and 4pm Mo - Fr, or from 8am - 12pm on Sa or Su.

If unable to get specimen to MDH by this time, send specimen the next day in the morning.

Weekends - per MDH direction.

  • Nasal swabs
  • Swabs with cotton tips
  • Swabs with wooden shafts
  • ESwabs
  • Dry swabs


MN Department of Health (MDH): R-NX
Mo - Su
Specimens must arrive at MDH by noon to be tested on the same day that it arrives.

Clinical and Interpretive info