Coronavirus Novel COVID-19 Real-Time RT-PCR Panel for Detection  

IMPORTANT! Pre-approval needed from state or local health department. Local or State Health Department. Send approval to or call (402) 559-9444.

NPHL has moved to an electronic ordering system, NUlirt, and it is now the preferred method to order all tests. Once ordered, print a "batch list" (see NUlirt Guide).

Forms Required - Nulirt batch list or NPHL Test Request Form (completed in entirety) must accompany the specimen to include the following information: symptoms and date of onset, pregnancy status, travel and vaccine history. Testing will not be performed without all required information.

Please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (800) 334-0459 for further clarification.


Test: Coronavirus COVID-19 Real-Time RT-PCR Panel for Detection  
Order in NUlirt or complete NPHL Test Order Form  
Synonym: Specific detection of 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV 2, novel coronavirus  
Method: Qualitative nucleic acid amplified real time RT-PCR ( rT-PCR) assay  
Availability: Test performed Monday – Friday; Turn-around-time 24-48hr  
Specimen: Nasopharyngeal swab, nasal swab  
Collection Device: Viral Transport Media  (VTM, UTM, VCM or M4) or Saline.
Specimens should be collected only on mini-tipped swabs with a synthetic tip (such as polyester or Dacron®) with aluminum or plastic shafts. Do not use calcium alginate swabs or swabs with wooden shafts, as they may contain substances that inactivate some viruses and inhibit PCR testing. Seal with Parafilm™ or tape.
  Specimen Labeling: Test subject to CLIA regulations and requires 2 patient identifiers and specimen source on container.  
Volume: 1-3 mL viral transport media  

Prior to and during shipment: Refrigerate 2-8°C for up to 72h after collection. Ship as soon as possible.

Shipping instructions, including specimen-handling requirements during transport:  Seal screw-top tubes with Parafilm™ or tape and place in biohazard bag with absorbent material.

Place specimen inside leak proof secondary container (biohazard bag and if transporting by air, use Tyvek™ Envelope) with adsorbent material. The secondary container must be packed inside an approved Category B shipping container filled with frozen gel-packs to keep specimen refrigerated. Position NUlirt packing list or NPHL Test Order form between secondary container and box lid. Seal with tape.  Label outer box as UN3373 Category B, Biological Substance. Transport by NPHL ground courier. If courier not available, ship by FedEx, UPS, or USPS (1st Class, Priority or Express Mail). Follow appropriate DOT/IATA Regulation Guidelines.  For assistance, call NPHL State Training Coordinator at (402) 559-3590.  
See instructions and shipping address:

NUlirt packing list or appropriate paperwork (completed in entirety) must accompany specimens.

  • Specimens not kept at 2-4°C (≤4 days) or frozen at -70°C or below.
  • Incomplete specimen labeling or documentation. No PUI number.
  • Inappropriate specimen type.
  • Insufficient specimen volume.
  • Swabs submitted with calcium alginate or cotton tips with wooden shafts are not acceptable.
Specimen Stability: Stable at Refrigerated 2-8°C < 72hr; Frozen >72h  
Reference Interval: Negative for 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV 2  
Reportable Disease: Report positive 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV 2 immediately to local or state health department. Refer to Nebraska DHHS Title 173, Communicable Diseases.  
Comments: Note: Do not centrifuge NPS samples before testing. Bleach can damage organisms/nucleic acids within the specimen, potentially causing false negative results.  Contact between bleach and specimens during collection, disinfection, and testing procedures should be avoided. 

Supplemental Forms Required – NUlirt packing list or NPHL Test Order Form (completed in entirety) must accompany the specimen.  
Revised: 6/14/2021 
If you have questions about proper specimen collection, please call NPHL Client Services at (402) 559-2440 or toll free at (800) 334-0459.