Passengers Arriving in Beijing And Shanghai Being Forced To Undergo Covid-19 Anal Swab Testing

Several weeks ago China deployed an ‘anal swab’ test to detect Covid-19, believing it to be more accurate than other testing methods. Passengers in several Chinese airports are now being subjected to these tests, where authorities “insert[..] a cotton-tipped stick three to five centimeters (one to two inches) into the rectum.”

Now China is using this for passengers from ‘high risk countries’ and when multiple people test positive on a flight.

A video went viral tagged, “Residents of Shijiazhuang, after receiving an anal test, walk like penguins.” The Chinese government was forced to deny the authenticity of the video, and forced it to be taken down from the country’s social media sites.

While authorities at the time claimed “[a]nal swab specimens are only collected from hospitalized COVID-19 patients suffering from diarrhea” and that the test “causes no obvious discomfort” that is no longer the case. In fact it is now being used for passengers arriving off of international flights at several airports in the country, including Beijing Capital and Shanghai Pudong.

In Shanghai, passengers who happen to have been on a flight with five or more passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to have an anal swab test, along with standard throat swabs. The same rule also applies to travellers from countries where the virus is “rife” according to one source quoted by The Global Times.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, standard throat and nose swabs are carried out on recently arrived travellers on days three and seven of quarantine, and then anal swabs are collected on the 14th and 21st day of quarantine.

Japan has sought a formal exemption for its citizens similar to South Koreans being granted the option of submitting a stool sample instead. The U.S. State Department has lodged a complaint over its employees being subjected to this testing.

Cheap widespread testing that’s easy to administer and delivers fast results is key to catching the most Covid-19 cases. It’s more effective than testing that’s the most accurate. If 10 million people take tests that are 80% accurate you’ll find far more cases than 2 million people taking 99% accurate tests.

China is trying to find every single case and can force citizens to submit to challenging test methods. They’re in a position to stamp out the virus, and liberties aren’t an issue. In Wuhan they sealed people into their homes, in some cases those people died, their homes became tombs. Although the Biden administration considered mandatory virus testing even for domestic flights, anal swabs do not appear to be a solution for bringing back robust travel in the United States.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If you don’t like the rules, you don’t have to go.

    There’s a reason why life in China is pretty much back to normal with large gatherings and work at the office – rules and processes are put in place to minimize virus spread, and they are actually enforced.

  2. What a great sense of humor and keeps China safe from outsiders. We should adapt the same to anyone not wearing a mask. No lube!

  3. For an extra $20 you can get some hand relief while they take the sample.

    Just be aware that they sometimes do the nasal, throat & anal swab all with the same probe. The order depends on what you’ve posted regarding the CCP. I, for one, welcome our new anal overlords.

    While I always recommend taking advantage of the ATM at the airport upon arrival, this was not what I had in mind.

  4. Do they stop at 21 days?
    If so, how long will I need to leave China to start a new 21 day regimen?
    Can I just take a simple roundtrip to return back to the US, and then immediately back to China to kick off my next 21 days?
    Is there any chance for an upgrade where I can move up the 14 and 21 day swab to earlier in my visit?
    They say that there’s no obvious discomfort, but can I request a more robust swab? You know, to make sure i’m not all covid’ed up in there? For posterior-ity? I can handle mild to moderate discomfort for the sake of everyone’s safety.

    I’m here to do my part!

  5. “It’s more effective than testing that’s the most accurate.”


    Anyhow, let’s try it out on @paul there and see if he loses any of the 4 masks he’s wearing.

  6. I think they use a 30cm swab for Americans as they think we are full of S#8^s or maybe they really do like us.

  7. They should inforce it in the EU, probably a lot will stop flying at the moment. Who wants to stir their back just for the sake of flying!

  8. P, if your ‘back to normal’ includes forced isolation and starving citizens to death, you can keep it. I’m never going back to China until the CCP is disbanded. I value my freedoms.

  9. China didn’t like being accused of being source of pandemic and now respond ‘stick it up your a–‘

  10. @Gary
    When’s your next trip to China?. Are you going to give us a report on what it feels like and maybe a few photos or video?

  11. Well we know how prudish Gary is and that now he would never travel there. If you haven’t been on here long try to research his concern with body imaging equipment in airports (who really cares Gary – did you never play on a sports team w a common shower) or multi use dispensers in hotel bathrooms.

  12. An expert on “points, miles, and frequent business travel” has just published his ignorance of Bayes’ theorem and the problems of false positives and negatives in clinical testing. Unsurprisingly, his comments about the value of a test with a 20% error rate vs one with a 1% error rate are idiotic.

    Which would you prefer: catching 99% of cases with a low error rate, or catching 80% of cases with an error rate (false positive) which finds an extra 2.5 false cases for each actual case? With the numbers postulated, the 80% test identifies 2.8 million “cases”-800K real ones. In a similar sized group, the 99% test catches 990K cases, and another 100K false hits. 2.8 million quarantines vs 1.1 million. The 80% test releases 200,000 actual infected (false negatives) to cause more infections; the 99% test releases 10,000.TWENTY TIMES more infected are released unrecognized by the 80% test.

    (Numbers assume a 10% true incidence of infection, probably way too high, and an equal number of people tested with each case. The comparison of 2MM/10MM for the two tests is so ignorant of how testing is done or evaluated as to not be worth comment.)

  13. That’s a nice Olympics you’re planning there. It would be a shame if no one showed up for it.

  14. When foreign passengers deplane do they get taken to private rooms for the test or do they drop their trousers and line up in the style of a highly efficient pants-less production factory?

  15. I saw in the news Japan was also demanding an anal covid test. It is enough to keep me changing in Korea instead of Japan.

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