Coronavirus testing information

COVID-19 PCR testing forms a routine part of the panel of viruses for any request for respiratory virus PCR testing.

All COVID-19 testing is performed in-house at Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology's central laboratory in Bowen Hills, Brisbane, Queensland.

Specimens can be collected at dedicated SNP collection centres by staff using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • For a printable PDF list click the blue box below.

PDF list of  coronavirus (and respiratory virus testing) collection centres

  • To find a dedicated collection centre using our interactive map:
    • Click on the blue box below.
    • If no designated collection centre appears, scroll out to include a larger demographic area.
    • If a collection centre appears closed:
      • Click on the collection centre for a list of opening hours and contact detail
         or
      • Scroll/zoom-out to view a wider range of available collection centres in the search area.

Interactive map of coronavirus (and respiratory virus testing) collection centres

  • Immediately make yourself known to the SNP collection centre staff and follow their directions.
  • Put on a mask provided, if not already wearing one.
  • Clean hands with the alcoholic hand wash/gel/foam provided.
  • Practise good respiratory hygiene (tissues, social distancing etc).
  • Patients will be triaged to a single room for the collection of specimens.
  • Discuss the pathology collection options with the collector.
  • The preferred specimen is a combined nose and throat flocked swab.
  • If a sputum sample is available, this should also be submitted.
  • A serum sample in high-risk patients may also be collected for future antibody testing.
  • PCR – amplification of the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
    • Can be performed on respiratory secretions, nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal flocked swabs, and faeces (specialised test: performed on request, in suspected-COVID-19 patients with diarrhoea).
    • Recommended for detection of active infection.
       
  • Serology – tests on serum for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
    • Currently only available via reference laboratory for cases of immediate public health concern.
    • Serology testing is currently under validation for antibody assay. Patients may be asked to provide a blood sample to be held for future antibody testing.
      Note for clinicians: Please request 'COVID-19 serology' on a pathology request form if requiring this test to be performed.
    • Recommended for detection of cases with high suspicion of infection but negative COVID-19 PCR OR detection of past exposure to COVID-19.
    • Correlation of the presence of antibodies with long-term immunity remains uncertain.

Patients may be offered a self-collection option for testing when attending an SNP collection centre for COVID-19 testing.

For patients who prefer not to perform a self-collect, SNP collection staff will be able to assist.

For more detailed information on COVID-19 self-collects, please click the link below.

Patient information on self-collection for COVID-19

  • There is now a Medicare rebate to cover the cost of coronavirus testing.

No. It makes it much less likely that they have COVID-19, but no test is perfect.

Repeat testing may be indicated if clinical suspicion is very high (e.g symptomatic partner of a positive patient). False-negative tests are not common, but they have been reported.

Testing of asymptomatic, low-risk individuals prior to surgery is not recommended at a national level.

Even with a very good test, testing widely in well individuals means that false-positive results are more likely, particularly if there are very low rates of COVID-19 in the community. It may also generate a 'false sense of security' in hospital staff assuming the patient cannot be infected with COVID-19. 

Current advice from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health indicates patients presenting for elective surgery or investigations should be screened with a questionnaire prior to arranging the intervention, and then re-screening and checking body temperature on the day of the procedure.

While every care is taken with testing, false-positive results can rarely occur.

If you are concerned about a test result being a false-positive result, please contact our microbiologists (07) 3377 8534 to discuss the result. We can review the testing and repeat any testing as required.

As false positives are very rare, leaving patients and contacts in isolation as indicated is advised, while test results are being investigated.

Public Health Units will also be involved in any such cases.

SNP will be key in providing COVID-19 testing to any sentinel patients in aged care facilities on behalf of the investigating doctors and then providing systematic screening of other residents and staff in the event of a positive COVID-19 case.

For more information, click below:

Aged care facility information for COVID-19 testing

Reactivation of COVID-19 is extremely unlikely.

Some early reports from China raised the possibility that COVID-19 patients who had become PCR negative had new symptoms, and had coronavirus detected again after an interval of days to weeks after recovery.

Further investigation in South Korea indicates that this is not the case. Researchers were unable to grow live viruses from these PCR positive samples. No patients developed significant progression of symptoms, and it is most likely that the positive results represent residual genetic material from the virus.

It is preferable that patients present to our collection centres with a printed valid request form as this reduces the risk of patient mis-identification and minimises delays.

When requesting pathology during a telehealth consultation, we suggest that you send the request form as an attachment by email to the patient who then prints the form prior to their arrival at a collection centre.


For medical practitioners using eOrdering to request pathology:

When generating a request form using an Order, a unique eOrder barcode is added to the request form and the pathology request is also sent electronically to our laboratory information system.

  • Once you send or ‘share’ the request form electronically with your patient, they may then present for a pathology collection without a printed request form.
  • Our collector will scan the unique barcode on their device screen and proceed with the collection.

It is important to note that only tests selected from the eOrder test list on the pathology ordering screen can be performed. We are unable to perform any tests that are handwritten or entered as ‘free text’ on the request form.


For patients who are unable to receive request forms electronically:

Medical practitioners can send the request by fax to (07) 3377 1913 or email to snprequestform@snp.com.au. Please note: only send one request form per fax or email.

Patients who have their requests faxed or emailed should wait until they receive an SMS from SNP to confirm that the request form has been received and is available for use at an SNP collection centre.