CDC updates COVID-19 specimen collection guidelines

Nov. 5, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 specimen collection guidelines on November 3rd.

The CDC said the update involves the agency’s Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with COVID-19 web page. The update provides more detailed recommendations for collecting anterior nasal (nares) specimens.

The revised recommendations are as follows:

Using a flocked or spun polyester swab, insert the entire absorbent tip of the swab (usually ½ to ¾ of an inch (1 to 1.5 cm) inside the nostril and firmly sample the nasal wall by rotating the swab in a circular path against the nasal wall at least 4 times. Take approximately 15 seconds to collect the sample. Be sure to collect any nasal drainage that may be present on the swab. Sample both nostrils with same swab.

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