Just ahead of the Lunar New Year, Chinese health officials have started deploying new COVID-19 anal swabs for detecting coronavirus, which they claim as a more accurate way of testing compared to the traditional nasal and throat swabs as well as antibody tests.
The report was originally reported by Chinese state media outlet the Global Times.
New Method of Coronavirus Detection
According to Li Tongzeng, the deputy director in charge of infectious diseases in the Beijing You'an Hospital, one of the people that proposed anal swabs, this method is much more accurate as the virus apparently "survives longer in the anus or excrement than those taken from upper body tracts."
Li emphasized that taking anal swabs would be able to increase accuracy in key groups, but it's not as convenient as nasal swabs, so it's being used in a relatively limited capacity, with only the key groups in quarantine centers receiving them.
However, according to Gizmodo, it appears that the COVID-19 anal swabs were actually much more common than what Li was letting on.
Based on the recent reports by Beijing's Daxing district, the anal swabs have been deployed to Beijing quarantine facilities as well as in school settings after the district had been in partial lockdown after discovering two cases of the British coronavirus variant.
Among the cases is a 9-year-old kid, with an asymptomatic case of the British strain.
With the use of saliva, nasal, and anal swabs as well as serum tests, more than 1,200 people were tested in the school where the pupil attended, but all of them were tested negative from the virus.
'Invasive' Anal Swab Testing in Guangzhou
ABC News also reported that the "invasive" testing method is actually more common outside of Beijing, such as the city of Guangzhou, where one woman shared on popular Chinese social media platform Xiaohongshu that her anal swabs were taken during the 14th day of her quarantine.
The social media user is a returning student from South Korea, who said that she felt "endless shame."
Another student based in Australia was also taken sample anal swab tests when she was quarantined in the city of Guangzhou.
Nevertheless, not everyone agrees with the new testing method.
No Certainty of the New Method's Accuracy
Yang Zhanqiu is among the experts that disagreed with the use of COVID-19 anal swab testing, saying that it has been proven that the virus is contracted via the upper respiratory tract compared to the digestive system, so the more accurate testing method remains to be nasal and throat swabs.
"There 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," Yang further said.
In other countries, the traditional swab tests remain to be the most used method of detecting the viral infection, and that the jury is still out whether anal swabs could provide the same accuracy in testing or if it is more useful than a throat swab.
As of now, everyone who arrives in China must undergo COVID-19 testing and must fulfill a 21-day quarantine period.
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Written by: Nhx Tingson