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China has reportedly brought anal swabbing back to detect coronavirus ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Just two weeks out before the chilly competition kicks off, the Chinese Communist Party is obviously keen on keeping Covid-19 transmission to an absolute minimum.
Local newspaper The Beijing News says authorities have asked more than two dozen people to submit to anal swabs to see whether they have the virus after a 26-year-old woman in their building tested positive.
The anal swab is similar to a PCR or rapid antigen test, where a cotton swab is inserted about one to two inches inside a person's rectum.
That swab is then sent to a lab to be analysed and see whether there are any traces of Covid-19 in the person's faeces.
A research paper on the method highlighted how a team from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences first suggested the method very early into the pandemic.
"They investigated on patients in a local hospital who were infected with SARS-CoV-2 and found the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in anal swabs and 75% (6/8) anal swabs were positive compared to 4/8 (50%) oral swabs that were positive in a later stage of infection, suggesting virus shedding and thereby transmission through the oral-fecal route," it concluded.
This method of testing has reportedly only been used for key groups at quarantine centres because it is so inconvenient to those who are receiving it.
It's unclear whether incoming athletes and their teams will be subjected to anal swabbing when they arrive into Beijing for the Olympics.
China found itself in hot water last year when Japan and America kicked off about the type of Covid-19 testing.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato urged China to stop anal swabbing Japanese residents in Beijing.
"Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused a great psychological pain," he said in March last year.
A US State Department spokesperson said it was 'undignified' that Washington diplomats were being subjected to the type of test.
"The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it," the spokesperson explained to Vice.
"We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past."
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