China starts using anal swabs to test for COVID-19, claiming increased accuracy

The procedure will be used to test international arrivals, as well as other groups categorized as in need of ‘close monitoring.’
Thu Jan 28, 2021 - 11:51 am EST
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BEIJING, China, January 28, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In a bizarre development, China has begun testing for COVID-19 using an anal swab technique in place of the usual nasal and throat swabs after officials claimed that “the coronavirus survives longer in the anus or excrement than those taken from upper body tracts.”

The new technique, which involves inserting a cotton-tipped swab about 1-2 inches into the rectum, allegedly “can increase the detection rate of infected people,” Li Tongzeng, a senior doctor from Beijing’s You’an hospital, told Chinese state broadcaster Central Chinese Television (CCTV).

The technique was tested on individuals quarantining in Beijing, which has been placed on “high alert,” entering into “partial lockdown.” 1,200 people were tested in a school in the capital using the anal swab, and all results came back negative.

CCTV have since said that the new procedure, which takes around 10 seconds to complete, will not become common practice as it is “not convenient.” It will, however, be used to test international arrivals, as well as other groups categorized as in need of “close monitoring,” as part of a four-fold test regimen.

One participant noted that the invasive test was “a bit embarrassing,” but ultimately “for our good.” A student who received the same treatment had an altogether different reaction, calling the process “[j]ust endless shame. No other feelings. Good luck.”

According to the Washington Post, Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, polled its users on the implementation of anal swabs. Weibo reported that 80% of respondents “could not accept” the new procedure.

A group of Chinese medical researchers published a paper in the Future Medicine journal in August of 2020. The researchers conclude that, even after patients were cured of COVID-19, stool samples still tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

On account of this, they claim that “[a]nal swabs might be the optimal specimen for SARS-CoV-2 detection to evaluate hospital discharge of COVID-19 patients.” The group advises that “[p]atients with positive stool results require further isolation until the virus is completely eliminated.”

A Chinese medical expert, Yang Zhanqiu, has publicly questioned the reliability of the new swabs, telling China’s Global Times that “[t]here have been cases concerning the coronavirus testing positive in a patient’s excrement, but no evidence has suggested it had been transmitted through one’s digestive system.”

Speaking to Australia’s ABC News, Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases expert at the Australian National University, expressed concern at China’s implementation of anal swabs: “I’m not quite sure what they're trying to achieve here with all the anal swabs. Obviously, from a compliance point of view, certainly people would obviously prefer the respiratory swab to the rectal or anal swab.”

The research paper finds “clinically cured cases [of COVID-19 patients] with positive results [of the virus] only in anal swabs,” but given that normal throat swabs routinely test negative at this stage, Senanayake said that “if you find a positive anal swab, it might just be confusing.”

Senanayake went on to accuse the Chinese government of “probably trying to find [or] pick up as many cases as possible,” highlighting that the method could potentially be used for political reasons rather than for medical purposes.

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China is well known for its harsh, coercive policing, and violating the dignity of its citizens. Recent accusations that Catholics are causing the spread of COVID-19 had state sponsorship, from the highest levels.

After numerous publications began circulating in the Hebei region, claiming that the village of Xiao Guozhuang is a Catholic stronghold which hosted regular “mysterious activities,” Sun Chunlan, China’s second vice premier, said, “It is necessary to learn lessons from the spread of the epidemic caused by religious activities and suspend group activities in religious places of worship and other gathering places.”

There have also been accusations that foreign visiting clergy have been bringing and spreading the virus. These claims were struck down by officials in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CPA), the state-approved church in China, who claimed that it is “almost impossible” for any foreign priests to enter the country, thus ruling out the Catholic clergy super-spreader claims.

Despite the protests of the CPA and “no evidence that the source of the epidemic is directly related to religious gatherings,” “illegal religious activities in rural areas” are being strictly monitored by Chinese authorities.

COVID-19 was first discovered in Wuhan, China. Some observers have accused a Chinese lab in the city of having — intentionally or unintentionally — released the virus.

  china, covid-19, covid-19 tests

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