A Biological Safety Level (BSL 1, 2, 3, or 4) is assigned to a biological lab as a safeguard to protect laboratory personnel, as well as the surrounding environment and community.
With research into potential treatments, therapies and vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (known widely as the COVID-19 Coronavirus) exploding across the globe, many institutions and laboratories are wondering whether their equipment and lab are considered safe to contain samples of the virus. As discussed in our previous blog on biosafety levels, airborne transmissible diseases like COVID-19 are typically categorized as Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3). BSL-3 laboratories are almost always purpose-constructed containment laboratories, outfitted with specialized equipment and HVAC systems designed to ensure no airborne particles can exit the contained space.
This guidance is intended for clinical laboratory and support staff who handle or process specimens associated with COVID-19. Guidance for Point-Of-Care Testing can be found here.
All laboratories should perform a site-specific and activity-specific risk assessment and follow Standard Precautions when handling clinical specimens. See Biological Risk Assessment: General Considerations for Laboratories
Refer to List Nexternal icon on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for EPA-registered disinfectants that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogens program for use against SARS-CoV-2.
Cultures of SARS-CoV-2 should be handled in a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory using BSL-3 practices, and inoculation of animals with infectious wild-type SARS-CoV-2 should be conducted in an Animal Biosafety Level 3 (ABSL-3) facility using ABSL-3 practices and respiratory protection.
Suspected and confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive clinical specimens, cultures, or isolates should be packed and shipped as UN 3373 Biological Substance, Category B.