- Anal COVID-19 swab tests are now mandatory for all travellers arriving in China, making foreign visitors upset.
- The Chinese government claimed that anal swabs provide a higher degree of accuracy than other testing methods for the coronavirus.
- There will be testing hubs in airports in Beijing and Shanghai as part of the country’s new travel requirement.
Foreigners arriving in China have been upset by the country’s mandatory anal swab tests for COVID-19. Travellers complain about the inconvenience and psychological trauma the procedure brought to them.
As an addition to nasal or throat swab tests, Bejing and Shanghai airports require the swabs for some foreign arrivals.
The test is conducted using a sterile cotton swab that is inserted 3 cm to 5 cm (1.2 inches to 2 inches) into the anus, the Chinese CDC said.
Chinese health officials told state media that anal swab tests can detect Covid-19 more accurately because coronavirus traces stay in the anus longer than in the respiratory tract.
Japan has already asked China to stop the anal tests on Japanese travellers due to the “great psychological pain” they caused.
A spokesman of the South Korean foreign ministry said South Korean travellers can now provide stool samples instead of “Chinese authorities taking them directly”.
U.S. media outlet Vice reported last month that U.S. diplomats had been subjected to the tests. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that to his knowledge, such tests had not been required of U.S. diplomats in China.
In a statement to Reuters, the ministry said Thursday that the virus prevention and control measures China was taking, including the anal swab tests, were science-based.
Anal swab tests are not only conducted in China. Spain has performed them “on some hospitalized patients, a few newborns and those with psychiatric illnesses for whom it was impossible to administer nasal swabs,” according to Reuters.
In an email to Reuters, World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Christian Lindmeier, said testing respiratory tract specimens to detect respiratory diseases is still recommended because they give the best samples.
“Faecal samples may offer an alternative testing material, especially in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms,” Lindmeier said, but they are “less likely than respiratory samples to be positive in the first week of symptoms.”