China using anal swabs to test for COVID-19

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • China has a new COVID-19 testing method aside from the throat and nose method—anal swab.
  • One official said that traces of the virus are found longer in the anus than the respiratory tract.
  • However, one pathology expert at Wuhan said that nose and throat swabs are more effective.

Citing local outlets, Bloomberg and the Washington Post have reported that China is now using anal swabs to test for COVID-19 aside from the throat and nose swabs.

Subject for this method is those belonging to the high-risk groups.

The anal swab uses a saline-soaked cotton swab that is inserted about 3-5 centimeters into the anus to get a sample.  Active traces of the virus are then tested.

In a recent interview with state television, Li Tongzeng, deputy director of the respiratory and infectious disease department of Beijing You An Hospital, said that traces of COVID-19 can be found longer in the anus than in the respiratory tract, hence the introduction of the method.

Tongzeng also said, “If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients.”  Due to the method’s inconvenience, only key groups such as those in quarantine would be tested using both methods.

When one asymptomatic case was discovered in one campus in Beijing, over 1,000 schoolchildren and teachers were given throat, nose, and anal swabs.

Passengers of a flight from Changchu to Beijing were also subjected to both methods when one of them was detected to have come from a high-risk area.

One citizen said that at first, he was shy but he understood the country’s move to prevent outbreaks.  

In a poll by Chinese social media platform, Weibo, 80% of the respondents were against the anal swab and “could not accept” the method.

According to pathology expert at Wuhan University, Yang Zhanqiu, “the nose and throat swabs are more effective at detecting the coronavirus because 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.”

It can be recalled that Wuhan is the original epicenter of the coronavirus and a major transportation hub that enabled the virus to spread rapidly to other countries.

At present, Mainland China has reported 100,227 positive cases of COVID-19 and at least 4,635 casualties.

Source: PEOPLE

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