COVID-19 information for clinicians
Testing for COVID-19
DHHS guidelines as of 14/4/2020 recommend coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for anyone with fever or respiratory symptoms.
Melbourne Pathology is testing for COVID-19 at our Collingwood laboratory.
Click here for the latest information on COVID-19 diagnostic testing
(6 November 2020 update)
COVID-19 swab collections
For COVID-19 collections, please use an orange-topped or blue-topped liquid Transwab, or a green or yellow-topped liquid swab (NOT a Cobas yellow-topped swab). Take a throat swab first and then use THE SAME SWAB to take a nasal swab.
COVID-19 serology testing
SARS-CoV-2 serology testing is available at Melbourne Pathology.
Currently, the main role of COVID-19 serology is in the retrospective diagnosis of disease. Testing is not advised until at least 14 days after a suspected illness. This test does NOT diagnose acute infection in the patient. COVID-19 serology assesses if the person has an immune response to the virus, which takes at least two weeks to develop. It may be useful when symptomatic individuals with suspected COVID-19 have not been tested by PCR for SARS-CoV-2 at the time of their illness, or when their result was negative or inconclusive. It can also identify those whose previous infection was asymptomatic.
While most infected individuals will have detectable antibody by the third week after symptom onset, the duration of the antibody response remains uncertain and whether it results in protective immunity, has not been established. It is important that all patients who have had infection with SARS-CoV-2, whether diagnosed by PCR or serology, should still have a COVID-19 vaccine should one become available in the future.
Our initial test is with the Roche Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Total antibody test, which detects both IgG and IgM. If testing for COVID-19 by IgM is required for immigration purposes, along with PCR, this will be covered by this assay. All samples which are reactive by this assay are reflexed to a second assay, the Diasorin Liaison IgG Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG test. These tests have been accredited by NATA for use in our laboratory.
For those requiring a COVID RT-PCR + IgM serology test for travel purposes, these patients must attend one of our asymptomatic COVID testing branches. Click here to view the list of available branches to attend. Please check the hours of COVID testing prior to presenting. Patients cannot attend one of these branches for a COVID test if they have COVID symptoms.
COVID-19 dedicated collection sites
We have set up dedicated COVID-19 collection sites for the convenience of your patients. Patients must present with a pathology referral from their clinician for COVID-19 testing.
|70 Alfred St, North Melbourne||M-F 8:30am – 4:30pm|
|159 Jasper Rd, Bentleigh||M-F 8:30am – 4:30pm|
|28 Station St, Ferntree Gully||M-F 8:30am – 4:30pm|
|28 Cranbourne Rd, Frankston||M-F 8:30am – 4:30pm|
To book, patients can call 9287 7700 and select option 4, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon arrival, patients must remain in their car and call the mobile number on the signage. The collector will come out to them.
Please note: we cannot accept patients with a referral for suspected COVID-19 at our standard collection centres. Patients will need to visit one of our dedicated COVID-19 collection sites.
All high-risk patients (clinically significantly unwell including high fever, symptoms or signs of pneumonia) must be referred to a hospital associated COVID testing site and not the Melbourne Pathology sites.
Patients with a referral for both COVID-19 testing and other pathology tests
If your patient is experiencing respiratory symptoms, fever or has recently returned from overseas travel, please do not refer them to our standard collection centres. These sites are not equipped for COVID-19 collections or managing suspected COVID-19 patients and will not take the sample.
For COVID-19 swab collection, refer your patient to a Melbourne Pathology dedicated COVID-19 collection site. If the patient has a referral for other pathology tests in addition to the COVID-19 testing, these will need to be performed after the patient has tested negative to COVID-19 or once given clearance from DHHS if the test is positive.
Patients with COVID-like symptoms needing a blood test
Melbourne Pathology recognises that not all patients with respiratory symptoms or fever have COVID-19 and understand routine medical care of these patients is necessary and appropriate. Not all collection centres are suitable for patients with symptoms to attend.
Patients with COVID-like symptoms needing a blood test
Melbourne Pathology recognises that not all patients with respiratory symptoms or fever have COVID-19 and understand routine medical care of these patients is necessary and appropriate. Not all collection centres are suitable for patients with symptoms to attend. Click here for more information and for a list of collection centres to attend.
Patients with symptoms needing a COVID test, should attend one of our dedicated COVID collection sites.
Note for clinicians: All referrals for symptomatic patients needing a blood test or pathology collection other than a COVID test, should clearly state what is being investigated in the clinical notes.
Pre-operative COVID screening
A reminder to all clinicians that a pathology referral is required for all pre-operative patients attending for COVID testing unless they are attending a carpark drive-thru (pop up) testing site. If you are unsure where your patient will present for their COVID test, please provide them with a referral. All patients should also be given a letter confirming they are having surgery and require a COVID test. Click here for more information for pre-operative COVID testing.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) results
SMS results - COVID-19 'not detected' only
All results where COVID-19 is not detected will be sent to patients via SMS where a mobile number has been provided.
Please be aware that SMS is not considered completely secure and is subject to abuse, typographical error, misdirection or non-delivery.
We will make every effort to SMS the result, but can take no responsibility should you fail to receive the SMS or your privacy is breached.
Please note, only COVID-19 ‘not detected’ results will be sent as an SMS.
All positive COVID results are communicated by phone call from the referring doctor or our Medical Microbiologist.
Results may take up to 48 hours from the time the sample is received in our laboratory.
If you have not received your result after this time, please call our Results Department on 9287 7777.
Respiratory PCR collections
As the symptoms will be similar between COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses and the outcome of the testing cannot be assumed at presentation, we have also moved to decline all respiratory PCR swab collections at our standard collection centres.
Melbourne Pathology has an electronic A4 referral available for clinicians performing Telehealth consults.
COVID-19 saliva testing
In a pandemic situation, where we want the best chance of finding a positive patient, we should use the most sensitive method wherever possible. A combined throat and nasal swab is the recommended sample. Saliva testing is not recommended for individual patients unless discussed prior to collection with our microbiologists.
Nasopharyngeal swabs collected by trained healthcare workers remains the gold standard test.