24 March 2020

College microbiology, virology and infection control team members continue to support patients, the public and College members during the spread of COVID-19.

The College has published a briefing on testing for COVID-19 which focuses on the following areas:

  • the College members involved in testing for COVID-19
  • how pathologists test for COVID-19
  • the scale of testing as we move through the coronavirus action plan
  • current pathology workforce issues.

Lab testing is vitally important for the diagnosis and control of COVID-19. The clinical features of COVID-19 infection are not distinctive. Only lab testing can distinguish between COVID-19 and other causes of acute respiratory infection. Consequently, hospital infection prevention and community public health measures rely heavily on the ability of laboratories to provide rapid and reliable results. This attention to quality underpins all pathology tests in the NHS every day.

Medical microbiologists and virologists are not only laboratory doctors; they also see patients on wards and in clinics where they diagnose and guide treatment even when the cause of an infection is not clear. They deal with all ages and types of patients, from premature babies to older people, medical, surgical, cancer and transplant patients. Most medical microbiologists and virologists also give advice to general practitioners on the management of infection in the community.

College President, Professor Jo Martin said:

'Many other specialties are supporting virology and medical microbiology colleagues, including molecular pathology and genomics, and colleagues in public health departments and we are grateful for all their input.'

Download the briefing


Find the latest information available on COVID-19 at our resource hub. We will update the documents and links on this page when we issue, or are made aware of, updated guidance or advice.