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Environmental Analysis

SARS-CoV-2, Environmental surfaces [COV-S]

Published: June 15th, 2020

Revised: March 21st, 2023

Why sample for COVID-19 in the indoor environment?

Limited recent study of surface viability of the COVID-19 virus indicates that it can remain detectable on different types of materials for several hours to days. According to the CDC, the COVID-19 viral RNA was detected for up to 17 days on surfaces within enclosed areas containing confirmed COVID-19 cases, such as the case on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Given the persistence of this virus on surfaces, proper decontamination and disinfection strategies are of the utmost importance. In certain high-risk circumstances, monitoring for persistent viruses is the gold standard method for confirming the elimination of surface contamination of COVID-19.

How does the test work?

Our COVID-19 virus analysis is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Respiratory Viruses Branch, Division of Viral Diseases protocol entitled 2019-NovelCoronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, effective 15 March 2020 . We have adapted and validated these processes for environmental samples in consideration of our test equipment and consumables.

Quantitative Reverse Transcription PCR analysis (qRT-PCR) is a highly specific and sensitive tool for testing samples for a range of RNA-based biohazardous agents. For our COVID-19 virus test, results will be reported as Positive or Not Detected. It is important to note that environmental RNA is highly unstable. SARS-CoV-2 consists of an RNA genome contained in a shell-like protein nucleocapsid which, in turn, is tucked inside an envelope composed of human cell membrane – this envelope protects the viral RNA from the environment. Once the integrity of the outer membrane is breached, environmentally abundant RNA-degrading enzymes rapidly destroy the viral RNA. Thus a positive result from this test is considered confirmatory of the presence of intact, infective virus particles.

Environmental Surface Sampling for COVID-19

Surface sampling procedures for the COVID-19 agent are described in the World Health Organization protocol entitled Surface sampling of coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Apractical “how to” protocol for health care and public health professionals dated February 18, 2020. This protocol should be followed when developing a post-decontamination sampling plan and collecting samples for submission for COVID-19 virus analysis.

Sporometrics-provided swabs for COVID-19 analysis will only be accepted. Swabs used for bacterial or fungal testing do not provide the same efficiency of viral RNA recovery and should not be used or submitted for this purpose. Decisions involving results and nonconformity of samples are the client’s responsibility. It is important to note that the swabs provided to you by Sporometrics are not the nasopharyngeal swabs used for clinical testing. Sporometrics understands the importance of maintaining the supply chain for our hospitals and healthcare industry.

For more information, please contact Sporometrics and a representative will be available to assist you.

Submission Instructions

Please contact Sporometrics prior to submitting any samples for COVID-19 virus testing. We will send you a work order with pricing and terms and conditions to sign and return. Sporometrics will provide test collection kits containing swabs and sampling instructions. It is critical that all samples are collected and submitted in accordance to our protocols, for protection of our team’s health and safety as well as your own.

Our AIHA Laboratory Accreditation Programs scope includes RT-PCR Covid-19 analyses for environmental air and swab samples.

Laboratory code: COV-S

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