China launches a new COVID screening campaign: the anal test

With the rekindling of COVID-19 on its territory, China is launching a screening campaign. But this includes new tests: rectal tests.

Covid test
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Covid test

Whilst China has benefited from a lull in recent months, the Coronavirus epidemic is on the rise again. Indeed, in recent weeks, the country has detected a few positive cases that did not come from outside. The government has therefore decided to launch a massive screening operation in parallel with the vaccination campaign. One of the areas currently under close surveillance is the capital Beijing, where several cases were revealed last week. In these places, residents were subjected to a drug test, but not just any: an anal test.

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More effective?

To proceed, a cotton swab dipped in a saline solution is used. It is then inserted two or three centimetres into the rectum. Then, you have to give it a few rotations. The sample is then placed in a sterile reservoir. It only takes about 10 seconds.

Li Tongzeng, doctor at You'an Hospital in Beijing, told CCTV that this method 'can increase the detection rate of infected people' because traces of the virus remain in the anus longer than in the airways. This success would be the same for asymptotic cases.

However, this is not the opinion of all scientists. Yang Zhanqiu, of Wuhan University, told the Global Times that according to him, standard swabs from the nose and throat should be preferred since it is in the respiratory tract that the virus is contracted.

According to Interesting Engineering, the anal test has already been used in China for a year in areas where the situation is worrying or for people in compulsory quarantine in hotels, for example. Beijing is therefore not the first city to give it a try. Despite everything, they will not be generalized because they are too restrictive and invasive compared to PCR and serological tests.

Mixed reactions

Reactions to these anal tests have been numerous, especially on the social network Weibo. One user admitted:

It's not too painful, but definitely super humiliating.

Another joked:

I had two anal screenings. While they were at it, they also took a sample from my throat. Each time, I was afraid that the nurse would forget to change the swab in between.

And finally:

Relieved to have already returned to China!

Since the new outbreak of the epidemic, China has tightened its border controls and restrictions. Thus, any person wishing to go to China will have to provide two negative Covid-19 tests, a PCR and a serological one. On their arrival, an anal test will also be compulsory followed by a compulsory 14-day quarantine in a hotel whose costs are to be covered by the traveller.

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