China has been using anal swabs to detect more Coronavirus cases in the country. But according to a recent report, the Chinese authorities have decided to stop using it on US diplomats after Washington said that the practice was undignified.
The US State Department said that it never agreed to this kind of testing. Rather, the department protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after learning that some staff members were subjected to it.
A spokesperson from the US State Department told VICE World that Chinese authorities have assured Washington that the test was given "in error" and that diplomatic officials were spared from the anal swab test. "We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past," added the spokesperson.
Anal Swabs in China
Anal swab test is not new in China. In some hospitals, the healthcare workers have been testing the rectal samples or feces of COVID-19 affected patients, after researchers found that the virus could be detected in an individual's digestive system for longer than in their respiratory tract.
China's National Health Commission said that cotton swabs need to be inserted three to five centimeters inside the rectum during an anal swab. Li Tongzeng, who is a senior doctor from Beijing's You're Hospital, said that this unique testing process can increase the detection rate of infected people.
Currently, in some places, the Chinese authorities have been ordering anal swabs for those who are in quarantine and people who just arrived from other countries. As of now, Chinese authorities made no plans to roll out the test to the general public as it is inconvenient and unpopular.
As of now, it is unclear how many American diplomats or their family members have gone through the unpleasant anal tests. But according to the spokesperson, the State Department will do everything to preserve the "dignity" of the diplomats and the members of their families, consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and other diplomatic law provisions.
However, when people in China came to know about the increased use of anal swabs, many reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror. One of the Weibo users wrote, "The nasal one was uncomfortable enough, I can't imagine this one." Another user said: "Low harm, but extreme humiliation."
But Chinese healthcare experts believe that conducting both nasal and anal swabs would help to reduce the chances of missing out on Coronavirus infected person.