Top 5 COVID-19 Testing Questions Answered

Top 5 COVID-19 Testing Questions answered - Banner

1. What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections.  COVID-19 stands for Coronavirus Disease 2019 an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus that was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City, China.  The strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2).  

For more information visit the World Health Organisation page.

2. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

For the latest information and advice for coronavirus symptoms visit this NHS page.

3. Can you test for coronavirus?

For companies or organisations that wish to offer a test to their employees for coronavirus (COVID-19) Cellmark offers a workplace PCR test, also known as an ‘antigen’ test, to determine if people have the virus.

Antibody tests, designed to test if you have previously had the virus, are currently being reviewed by the government.  Cellmark does not currently offer this test.  For more information please see the government website.

If a member of the public has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) they can request an antigen test through the NHS. To find out more click here.

4. How is coronavirus tested?

There are two types of test for coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), or 'antigen', swab test to find out if you currently have the virus; and
  • an antibody or serology blood test to find out if you have antibodies against the COVID-19 virus indicating a previous infection.

Cellmark offers workplace coronavirus (COVID-19) testing using a PCR test.  It involves a swab of the nose and the throat. Cellmark’s ‘antigen’ test is a specific and sensitive PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) based test which tests for the presence of COVID-19 viral RNA. This identifies if you currently have the virus.

5. How does workplace testing work?

Cellmark provides a 24hr COVID-19 testing service with results sent to a coordinating health professional at each customer organisation.  Once registered with Cellmark, we will arrange for the delivery of COVID-19 swab collection kits, which are supplied with simple sampling and submission instructions.  Our service involves the collection of a throat/nasal swab which is returned to us in a viral inactivation buffer, to support health and safety considerations. 

The sampling kits contain barcoded tubes, corresponding self-adhesive barcodes and consent/identification forms for the organisation to link and retain the donor identity to the barcode.  Cellmark does not receive or hold any donor personal information.

We can either provide IATA compliant packaging with pre-paid tracked postage for sending the samples to our laboratories, or we can arrange for the courier collection of samples.

Once the samples arrive at our laboratories we will test and report the results within 24 hours.  Barcoded results are sent to the organisation’s coordinator to match with the donor identification and report the result back to the individual.  Please note that because COVID-19 is a notifiable disease any positive results must be notified to Public Health England through the donor’s GP.

To discuss and set up a COVID-19 testing service for your organisation simply call 0800 193 7999 or email

Click here for the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19).