Table 2

‘At a glance’ summary of important laboratory considerations during COVID-19 outbreak

IssuesSuggested solutions
Operational preparedness
  • Ease of transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 via respiratory droplets.

  • Team segregation, social distancing, for example, staggered meal timings and deferment of large group gatherings.

  • Reinforcement of business continuity and contingency plans with other departments.

  • Quarantine measures for staff who are unwell.

  • Use of web-based remote learning platforms for training or conferencing.

Preanalytical phase
  • Potential occupational hazards handling COVID-19 patient samples.

  • Leakage of samples in containers or during transit.

  • Full personal protective equipment used while processing such samples.

  • Samples preferably processed in a class 2 biological safety cabinet.

  • Transport of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient samples to be within a leak-proof cryobox.

  • No pneumatic tubes to be used.

  • Prioritise urgent samples, that is, lactate or arterial blood gas, within the cryobox.

Analytical phase
  • Manual processes may result in contamination of surfaces, that is, centrifugation of samples with aerosol generation and manual pipetting resulting in fomites.

  • Samples not identified as COVID-19 may arrive in the laboratory incognito.

  • Conduct a full risk assessment of all analytical processes in the laboratory.

  • Full decontamination must be performed using an Environmental protection agency-approved solution against the SARS-CoV-2, for example, 70% alcohol or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite solution.

Postanalytical phase
  • Transmission and reporting of results securely and in a timely fashion.

  • Positive cases must be communicated expediently to clinical team via hospital alert system and Electronic Medical Records to facilitate timely treatment and contact tracing.

  • Within laboratory department, a secure means of communication is suggested, that is, TigerConnect.

  • Artificial intelligence to be considered in stratifying patients with COVID-19.

  • COVID-19, coronavirus disease 2019; SARS-CoV-2, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.