Beijing is now including anal swabs in the city’s array of COVID-19 testing options — and people aren’t really happy about it.
Testing stations have begun using anal swabs to test people considered to be at high risk of having COVID-19, according to a report by state broadcaster CCTV, because the technique can better detect the presence of the virus.
It quoted You’an Hospital senior doctor Li Tongzeng as saying that the test was more sensitive than throat and nasal swabs, and was better at detecting people infected with COVID-19.
“Some asymptomatic patients recover quickly, meaning that there could be no trace left of the virus in their throat after three or five days,” Li was quoted as saying.
“But we found that the virus lingers longer in samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and stool … so using anal swabs would increase detection rates … and lower the risk of misdiagnosis,” he said.
The move follows mass compulsory testing at a Beijing school — including nasal, oral and anal swabs — after a student was confirmed as an asymptomatic case.
Health officials locked down several residential compounds in Beijing’s Daxing district last week, and citywide testing is currently under way.
“There are still a lot of restrictions in Daxing, and across the whole of Beijing,” an employee who answered the phone recently at the Shunyi district epidemic control center in Beijing told RFA. “You have to get your temperature taken and scan your health code to go anywhere.
Beijing pharmacist Pang Xinhua said the virus is particularly easy to detect in stool samples, and frequently affects the digestive tract.
“Patients with COVID-19 can have symptoms such as diarrhea,” Pang told RFA. “It’s an easy way to detect the virus.”
“Testing from the oral mucosa and nostrils doesn’t always work properly,” he said.
Diagrams and video clips of patients presenting for anal swabs went viral on social media on Wednesday, with netizens cringeing at the idea, and some saying they would cancel plans to travel back to the city ahead of Lunar New Year on Feb. 12 to avoid what is widely seen as a humiliating procedure.
According to one video, the swab must be inserted about an inch into the rectum and rotated several times, with the whole procedure taking about 10 seconds.
“Low risk of harm; high risk of humiliation,” one user quipped on the Weibo social media platform.
Another commented: “After seeing the official propaganda pictures, I have dropped the idea of going home for the New Year.”
America JUST got regular testing at an acceptable level. We’ll see how long it takes for anal swab COVID testing to make its way over here.