China Starts Doing Anal Swabs to Test for COVID-19

Anal Swabs

Chinese health experts in Beijing have started using anal swabs to test their citizens for COVID-19.

These experts believe the coronavirus survives longer in excrement and the anus than in the mouth and nasal passages.

An instructional video explaining how to perform an anal swab test for COVID-19 has been shared on Chinese social media.

The entire process can be completed in 10 seconds. A cotton swab about 3-5 centimeters (1.1-1.9 inches) long is slipped into the rectum and twisted around four to five times.

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After an asymptomatic 9-year-old boy was tested positive for COVID-19 through an anal swab test last week, Beijing officials added anal swabs to their list of acceptable COVID-19 tests, Global Times reported.

Authorities then used nasal, throat and anal swabs to conduct tests for over 1,000 teachers and students from the boy’s school. 

Screenshot via Weibo

According to Li Tongzeng, a deputy director in charge of infectious disease at Beijing You’an Hospital, there are studies that have demonstrated the coronavirus’ ability to survive in the anus and in excrement for long periods of time.

Since anal swab tests are not as convenient as throat swab tests, Li mentioned that this type of testing is only applicable to groups at quarantine centers.

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Some experts, however, are not entirely sold on the idea of using anal swabs as a way to test for COVID-19.

Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, claimed nasal and throat swabs to be the most efficient methods of testing since the coronavirus is known as a respiratory disease.

“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 told Global Times.

Feature Image via Mr Anderson

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