Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Testing
The RT-PCR test, also called a molecular test, is a COVID-19 test that detects the genetic material of the virus and can indicate if one has an active coronavirus infection and whether or not they should take steps to quarantine or isolate from others.
A fluid sample is collected by inserting a long nasal swab (nasopharyngeal swab) into the nostril and taking fluid from the back of the nose.
The lab technician uses special chemicals, called primers and probes, and a high-tech machine to conduct several controlled heating and cooling cycles to convert the virus’s RNA into DNA, and then make millions of copies of the DNA. The test has a 99% accuracy for the detection of Covid-19 because of its high sensitivity and how it detects the virus’s genetic material. However, there is a possibility of a false positive or false negative result as is with any diagnostic testing.
Can I Use This Test To Travel?
Yes, This PCR Test Can Be Used To Travel Anywhere A Negative PCR Test Is Required.
Is Another Test Needed?
This PCR test is highly accurate for the detection of COVID-19. If there is a positive result, we recommend repeating the PCR test two weeks after the first positive to determine if the virus is active in the body.
Two negative tests are recommended to ensure the virus is no longer active in the body, however, the decision should be made with your healthcare provider.
Will the Health Department contact me if I get a positive COVID-19 test?
If you test positive for COVID, you may be contacted by your County Health Department Case Investigator (usually by phone) for a voluntary and confidential conversation.
The case investigator will ask you some questions to understand more about you and your illness. The interviewer will work with you to create a list of all of the people you may have had close contact with while you were sick, and right before you felt sick. This process helps to find people who may have been exposed to COVID-19.
After your close contacts have been identified, a contact tracer will reach out and notify them of their possible exposure as soon as possible. When the interviewer calls close contacts, they do NOT tell them who it was who tested positive for COVID-19. This conversation will be confidential to protect and respect your privacy.
Both case investigators and contact tracers will also provide education, information, and support to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Read more about case investigations and contact tracing on New Jersey's Department of Health website.