26th March 2020
The LCA hosted a conference call on the 25/03/20 for legionella testing laboratories, both LCA members and non-members, to discuss common issues and share good practice during the COVID-19 outbreak. A number of important issues emerged that LCA members and laboratory users should be aware of:
• The laboratories are currently all open and processing samples as normal
• Laboratories are committed to reporting everything they receive
• Laboratory staff should be considered key workers as they are part of the supply chain underpinning healthcare, utilities and general health and safety
• Laboratories have contingency plans in place to allow them to continue providing these essential services even if individual labs have to close
• Precautions are in place to ensure laboratory workers are not put at risk when handling samples
The risk from COVID-19 within the water sample is extremely small but there is a very slight risk for transfer of virus via external bottle surfaces if taken in risk environments.
What LCA Members Need to Do
1) If service providers are taking samples where there is an increased likelihood of COVID-19 being present (e.g. samples from ICU or hospital wards with COVID-19 patients)
a. tell the laboratory prior to site visit / sampling
b. disinfect the outside of the bottles before submission
c. follow any specific procedures the laboratory may have in delivering the samples to the laboratory
2) Keep up to date with laboratory communications – at the moment the logistics chain is largely unchanged but viability of drop off points and couriers are outside the laboratories direct control and may change rapidly
3) When buildings are recommissioned be aware that there may be significant demand on laboratory services for validation samples and plan work accordingly
4) If you have any questions regarding your laboratory service provider then contact them; they are there to support you through these challenging times.