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Coronavirus staff guidance University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

Antigen PCR testing

Last updated: 12 October 2022 at 17:59

The antigen PCR test:

  • Tests for the presence of the virus in a patient
  • Has an optimal testing window of between 2 days prior to symptom onset and 7 days after
  • Can be carried out using nose swabs, throat swabs or saliva

Positive results

Continue PPEĀ use and follow Trust policies in terms of patient pathway, if admitted.

A positive result does not tell you how ill the patient will become, or when they contracted the virus.


The test is only 75% accurate - symptomatic patients with a high suspicion of infection should be re-tested 2 to 3 days later.

If there is a high suspicion of COVID-19 and a repeat PCR is negative, an antibody test could be considered.

Requesting a test

Tests for patients can be requested through microbiology.

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