China has reportedly made it mandatory for almost all international travellers to undergo an "undignified" anal swab for Covid-19.
The government claimed this week the method has a higher accuracy than other methods and that testing hubs will be set up in Beijing and Shanghai airports, according to UK publication, The Times.
The move comes after Japan asked China to stop performing the anal swabs on their citizens, claiming they have caused “great physiological pain”.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan has not received a response that Beijing would change the testing procedure, so the country will continue to ask China to alter their testing.
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control said the test is performed with a sterile cotton swab, which looks like a very long ear bud, that is inserted 3cm to 5cm into the anus before being gently rotated out.
Doctors say anal swabs 'more effective'
Such tests can increase the chances of infections being spotted, since coronavirus traces can be detected in the anus for longer than in the respiratory tract, some Chinese doctors told state media.
But a positive result does not necessarily mean the person tested can spread the virus, as inactive traces unable to replicate or infect others can also show up as a positive result, Jin Dongyan, a virology professor at the University of Hong Kong, said.
While the virus does shed for a longer time in the stool than in nasal samples, that has no clinical relevance as patients in that stage of recovery no longer pose infection risks, said an expert in Europe who spoke on condition of anonymity.
US diplomats 'have undergone anal tests'
Last month, US media outlet Vice cited a State Department official as saying US diplomats had undergone the tests. The Chinese foreign ministry rejected the report.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing that “China has never asked US diplomats in China to go through anal swab tests.”
A US State Department spokesperson said Washington was “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”.
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