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China is Now Using 'More Accurate' Anal Swab Tests To Detect Covid-19: What You Need to Know


Last Updated: January 28, 2021, 14:23 IST

Image for representation. Credits: AFP.

Image for representation. Credits: AFP.

Suspected coronavirus patients made to take the anal swab tests have complained of inconvenience, since it is a much more invasive procedure than the usual nasal or throat swab.

In a bid to contain the steadily rising Covid-19 infections, Beijing has introduced anal swabs, a type of coronavirus test that the Chinese authorities deem could detect the novel virus more accurately than the nasal swabs that have been used till now.

Caught in the throes of the resurgence of the deadly virus in small pockets of the country, China has been struggling to control its spread ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations. However, this new method of testing has prompted widespread outrage with medical professionals questioning the efficacy of such a procedure.

What is the Anal Swab Test?

The test involves inserting a cotton-tipped swab about 1-2 inches into the rectum, which will then be tested for the virus. However, as per reports, some have complained of inconvenience, since it is a much more invasive procedure than the usual nasal or throat swab.

Who are the Recipients?

The anal swab tests are mainly being conducted on residents in China‘s northern regions and Beijing where there has been a surge in Covid-19, for high-risk cases and those in quarantine facilities. However, there have been reports of surprise testing as well. This includes passengers arriving in Beijing. According to local officials, a group of more than 1,000 schoolchildren and teachers believed to be exposed to the virus were made to take this test.

Also read: A Covid-19 Nasal Swab Test Punctured Woman’s Brain Lining and Leaked Brain Fluid From Her Nose

 Earlier this week, passengers on a flight from Changchun to Beijing were told to disembark after officials discovered that someone from a hotspot area was on board. They were then subjected to anal swab tests, Bloomberg reported.

How Effective is the Test in Detecting Coronavirus?

This new technique was rolled out after a study conducted by Chinese authorities revealed that the virus lasts longer in the anus or excrement than in the respiratory tract. Anal swab tests could be more accurate than the nose or throat tests, said Li Tongzeng, deputy director of the respiratory and infectious diseases department at Beijing You An Hospital, in an interview with state media.

This claim was further backed by numerous doctors on the basis that recovered patients have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative. The Global Times quoted Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai as saying that such swabs could be useful in helping minimize the risk of relapse after recovery.


Yang Zhanqiu, a pathology expert at Wuhan University, told China’s Global Times that nose and throat swabs are the most efficient tests for Covid-19. “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 said.

CCTV said on Sunday, anal swabs would not be used as widely as other methods, as the technique was ‘not convenient’. Chinese Officials are fixated on rooting out all vestiges of the virus. In order to keep the virus from spreading, China has been imposing stricter requirements on international travelers, with people arriving in China needing to have multiple negative test results and quarantine for at least 14 days in a designated hotel upon arrival.

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first published:January 28, 2021, 14:23 IST
last updated:January 28, 2021, 14:23 IST