Coronavirus (Covid-19) home diagnostic sampling guidance

13 February 2020

Chief Executive Officers
Medical Directors
Acute NHS and NHS Foundation Trusts
Community and Mental Health Trusts with UTCs

Dear Colleague

Coronavirus (Covid-19) Home Diagnostic Sampling Guidance

Thank you for your recent work in planning for local responses to the Coronavirus outbreak.

We are writing today to provide guidance on the procedures and equipment required for home diagnostic sampling in those persons identified by NHS 111 as suitable for this service. This will include those individuals identified as requiring sampling as part of PHE contact tracing.

The case definition and associated guidance is being updated on a regular basis as follows:

Please continue to check these sources regularly.

As you know, NHS 111 is the main route of managing individuals who are concerned they may fit the case definition for Covid-19. The aim is to manage as many individuals as possible in the community and safeguard the business as usual processes of NHS frontline units.

NHS111 may assess a person is suitable for home testing if:

  1. Patient meets the case definition for possible Covid-19
  2. Patient is symptomatic with mild to moderate symptoms but has been assessed as clinically well and suitable to self-isolate at home
  3. Does not require immediate hospital assessment
  4. Patient is able to self-isolate

Home sampling will help to protect NHS emergency departments and ambulance transport for ‘business as usual’.

This guidance covers:

  • The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • The competent collection of samples
  • Safe packaging and transport of samples to the laboratory
  • The safe disposal of waste.

This is designed to protect NHS staff, and members of the public from the Coronavirus outbreak whilst safeguarding NHS business as usual resources.

Please ensure you liaise with your Regional NHS England and Improvement EPRR team to ensure that there is co-ordination across the system.

We will continue to provide updates via EPRR structures and also through weekly webinars.

Thank you all for your ongoing hard work.

Kind regards

Professor Keith Willett | NHS Strategic Incident Director (Coronavirus) | NHS England and NHS Improvement