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Chinese authorities have reassured citizens they won't be walking like 'penguins' after receiving an anal swab to test for coronavirus, labelling a viral video of people waddling around - allegedly after receiving the swab - as fake.
The procedure is being used in China to screen for coronavirus cases, with a doctor telling state broadcaster CCTV that 'key people' were being swabbed anally for the virus.
According to official instructions, the swab needs to be inserted about three to five centimetres (1.2 to 2 inches) into the patient's rectum, before being rotated several times to collect the sample.
The process, which is carried out by a medical worker, it supposed to take about 10 seconds.
A viral video shows Chinese citizens walking stiffly while leaving a hospital, their arms slightly outreached - much like a penguin.
It was reportedly filmed on 28 January in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province in northern China.
However, after being viewed millions on times on various social media platforms, the footage has been taken down by internet censors.
The Shijiazhuang Internet Report Centre said the video had been edited and doctored to spread 'rumour', citing the municipal health department and a doctor to prove the video was inauthentic in an official post on Weibo.
The authority also stressed that patients would not experience any discomfort after receiving the anal swab.
Beijing propaganda outlet The Global Times also published an article in English yesterday, which was titled 'You won't walk like penguin after anal swab coronavirus test'.
It did not explain when and where the footage was from, or why people could be seen walking in a strange manner.
Some experts believe the anal swab method is more accurate than a nasal or throat swab, meaning it can help detect the virus.
According to Li Tongzeng, from the Beijing You'an Hospital, the coronavirus survives longer in excrement or the anus than it does in the throat and nasal passage.
He told CCTV (as translated by the Daily Mail): "We found that some asymptomatic patients tend to recover quickly. It's possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days.
"But the virus lasts longer from the samples taken from the patient's digestive tract and excrement, compared to the ones taken from the respiratory tract.
"If we conduct anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it would increase the detection rates of patients and lower the chance of a missed diagnosis."
However, another scientist, Yang Zhanqui - the deputy director of pathogen biology at Wuhan University - said the throat and nose swab remains the best way to test for the virus, as it is contracted via the respiratory tract, not the digestive tract.
He told Global Times: "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."
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