China used anal swabs on US diplomats to test for COVID

In a procedure that takes around 10 seconds, the swab is inserted about 1-2 inches into the rectum.
Fri Feb 26, 2021 - 2:32 pm EST
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BEIJING, China, February 26, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) –– China reportedly forced U.S. diplomats to use degrading anal swabs in order to test for COVID-19.

On February 17, the Washington Post wrote that U.S. officials “have complained about being subjected to anal swab tests for the coronavirus by Chinese authorities.”

This was followed up by VICE News, which reported recently that officials from the US. State Department, had been subject to China’s practice of using anal swabs as a means to supposedly test for COVID-19 upon arrival into the country.

China began using anal swabs to test for COVID-19 earlier this year, as the country’s officials claimed “the coronavirus survives longer in the anus or excrement” than in samples “taken from upper body tracts.”

In a procedure that takes around 10 seconds, the swab is inserted about 1-2 inches into the rectum. It can allegedly “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).

Since then, CCTV said the new procedure would not become common practice as it is “not convenient.” It would, 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.

Speaking to LifeSiteNews, a State Department spokesperson mentioned, “We have received assurances from Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that this testing was conducted in error and that diplomatic personnel are exempt from this requirement.”

“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the MFA when we learned that some U.S. Mission personnel were subjected to it,” he added. “Our guidance to diplomatic personnel remains the same as it has always been: to decline this test if it is asked of them.”

“The Department is committed to guaranteeing the safety and security of American diplomats and their families while preserving their dignity, consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations as well as other relevant diplomatic law provisions.”

Reports suggested that China informed Washington the tests had been given in error, thereby acknowledging that the tests did in fact take place. However, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denied those tests had actually happened in his press conference February 25.

Lijian ruled out the possibility of tests even being used in error, saying, “I checked this with my colleagues. As far as I know, China has never asked U.S. diplomats stationed in China to do anal swab tests.”

Despite Lijian’s clear denial of such tests being used on U.S. officials, a U.S. diplomat confided to CNN that the U.S. had been “negotiating with the Chinese for a while,” in order to prevent Americans from having to undergo the tests.

Despite China’s faith in the testing procedure, some experts have expressed their doubts. Speaking to Australia’s ABC News, infectious disease expert Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, stated: “I’m not quite sure what they’re trying to achieve here with all the anal swabs.”

China has defended the method by referring to an August 2020 study, which concluded, “Anal swabs might be the optimal specimen for SARS-CoV-2 detection to evaluate hospital discharge of COVID-19 patients.”

“Patients with positive stool results require further isolation until the virus is completely eliminated,” the study added.

The research paper found “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.”

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While news broke of China’s use of anal swabs only last month, it appears that the accompanying test of stool samples has been a practice used since early last year as a means to detect COVID-19. In September 2020, the Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong Kong stated that it was extending its existing regime of stool testing for the virus, since it believed the method was more reliable than nasal swabbing.

The faculty revealed that it had been performing the procedure since March 2020, and heralded the method as useful for identifying people who were asymptomatic with the infection.

  anal swabs, china, covid-19

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