As if the regular stick-in-the-brain nasal testing wasn't invasive enough, China has now begun using anal swabs to test those it considers to be at high risk of catching COVID-19, local exports claiming the procedure is more effective in detecting the virus, state TV reports.
Might increase the detection rate
China had mostly been conducting tests using throat and nose swabs. The method is being used more commonly in Beijing now after a 9-year-old tested positive for the U.K. variant of the virus last month, per Medical Express.
Anal swabs were taken from the residents of neighborhoods with confirmed COVID-19 cases and quarantine facilities, broadcaster CCTV stated.
According to Li Tongzeng, a senior doctor from Beijing's Youan hospital, who spoke to CCTV, the anal swabs method, while not as convenient as throat swabs, can provide more accurate results and "can increase the detection rate in infected people."
This is because the coronavirus reportedly stays longer in the anus than in the respiratory tract.
The method explained
While invasive and uncomfortable, the procedure reportedly takes about 10 seconds.
A saline-soaked cotton swab is inserted 0.8 to 1.2 inches (2 to 3 centimeters) into the rectum and rotated a few times. The swab is then removed and placed inside a container to be tested for active traces of the coronavirus, per Bloomberg.
The method has been used on individuals living in COVID-19 hotspots since last year, so Beijing isn't the first. It isn't widely used due to the fact that it is not as convenient as throat and nose swabs.
The method being used in Beijing shows that Chinese authorities needed to up the ante in their zero-tolerance approach as the cases rise around the world.
The country has also imposed stricter requirements internationally and domestically, with Beijing declaring that those from medium- or high-risk areas won't be allowed into the city beginning Thursday in an effort to reduce the risk of COVID-19 cases rising in the Lunar New Year period.