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.