04/06/2020: Lab Advisory: Guidance for Use of Pneumatic Tube Systems for Transport of Respiratory Specimens from Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Patients

CDC's Laboratory Outreach Communication System (LOCS)

Audience: Clinical Laboratory Professionals

Level: Laboratory Advisory

Guidance for Use of Pneumatic Tube Systems for Transport of Respiratory Specimens from Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 Patients

All specimens collected for laboratory testing should be regarded as potentially infectious. Healthcare personnel and laboratory personnel who transport clinical specimens within a facility should adhere to Standard Precautions and select appropriate biosafety practices based on a site-specific and activity-specific risk assessment to reduce the risk of personnel exposure.

Because of the potential for exposure to infectious aerosols or droplets, it is not recommended to transport respiratory specimens from patients with suspected or confirmed Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) through the pneumatic tube system (PTS). Examples of respiratory specimens include nasopharyngeal (NP) and oropharyngeal (OP) swabs, nasal mid-turbinate (NMT) swabs, anterior nares swabs, nasopharyngeal wash/aspirate or nasal aspirate, pleural fluids, tracheal and lower respiratory tract aspirates, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) specimens, and sputum. CDC is in the process of updating the Frequently Asked Questions about Laboratory Biosafety and SARS-CoV-2 – additional information is forthcoming.

Additional Resources:

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: April 7, 2020