02/12/2020: Lab Update: Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

CDC's Laboratory Outreach Communication System (LOCS)

Audience: Clinical Laboratory Professionals

Level: Laboratory Update

Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Please note that the “Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)” was updated on February 10, 2020. The revisions include:

  • The term “certified” was added to clarify that a certified Class II Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) should be used for any laboratory procedure with the potential to generate aerosols or droplets.
  • Additional guidance was provided for any laboratory procedures that are performed outside of a BSC. For any procedures performed outside of a BSC, eye and face protection (e.g. goggles, mask, face shield) or other physical barriers (e.g. splash shield) should be used to minimize the risk of exposure to laboratory staff.
  • Additional guidance was provided on the selection of the appropriate disinfectants to be used to decontaminate laboratory work surfaces and equipment. Use EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims that are effective against other respiratory pathogens, such as seasonal influenza and other human coronaviruses.
  • Additional guidance was provided for handling 2019-nCoV laboratory waste. For 2019-nCoV laboratory waste, follow standard procedures associated with other respiratory pathogens, such as seasonal influenza and other human coronaviruses.
  • The need for both site- and activity-specific risk assessments was added to determine if additional laboratory biosafety control measures are necessary.

CDC has received numerous inquiries for guidance on the packing, shipping, and transport of specimens from suspected and confirmed patients infected with 2019-nCoV. At this time, specimens associated with suspected and confirmed patients should be packed, shipped, and transported as UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B. For additional guidance on packing instructions (IATA Packing Instructions 650pdf iconexternal icon) and requirements for shipping and transport, refer to the current edition of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulationexternal icon.

For additional information related to the Interim Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines for Handling and Processing Specimens Associated with 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), please refer to the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus Laboratory Biosafety website.

Additional Resources:

If you have any questions, please contact us at LOCS@cdc.gov.

Laboratory Outreach Communication System | Division of Laboratory Systems (DLS)

Center for Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Laboratory Services (CSELS)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

LOCS@cdc.gov

www.cdc.gov/csels/dls/locs

Page last reviewed: March 20, 2020