China will continue its program of invasive and humiliating anal swab testing on travellers despite objections from the international community including the United States and Japan. Chinese health experts say anal swab testing is a far more accurate method to detect COVID-19 infection and that the procedure will continue to be used in several major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao in East China’s Shandong Province.
The insistence on using anal swab testing comes despite Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato confirming that Tokyo had made official representations to Beijing to stop using the procedure because it had caused “great psychological pain”. A number of Japenese travellers have been subjected to the mandatory testing process in recent weeks.
The U.S. State Department has also said that it “evaluating all reasonable options” to protect the “dignity” of its workers and diplomats in China. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has, however, denied reports that U.S. diplomats have been subjected to anal swab testing following a report in the Washington Post last month.
According to the English language state-run newspaper The Global Times, anal swab testing involves inserting a saline-soaked cotton swab between three and five centimetres into the rectum and then being rotating it for up to 10-seconds as it is slowly removed from the anus.
“When you bend over with your pants off, and medical staff poke your anus repeatedly, all you can feel is a sense of shame, but other than that, it was not that uncomfortable,” said one traveller about her experience of receiving an anal swab. The authorities were recently forced to deny the authenticity of a viral social media video that claimed the testing method left people walking like penguins.
The bizarre testing method first attracted worldwide media attention in January when Chinese health officials revealed that they had been trialling anal swab testing on cold-chain workers over fears that the novel Coronavirus was being imported into China on refrigerated foods and packages.
Since then, health authorities have widened the program because they believe anal swab testing is far more accurate than traditional throat or nasal swabs.
The criteria for who is required to take an anal swab test varies from city to city. In Shanghai, passengers who happen to have been on a flight with five or more passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to have an anal swab test, along with standard throat swabs. The same rule also applies to travellers from countries where the virus is “rife” according to one source quoted by The Global Times.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, standard throat and nose swabs are carried out on recently arrived travellers on days three and seven of quarantine, and then anal swabs are collected on the 14th and 21st day of quarantine.
Anal swabs are also performed on travellers who reports symptoms like diarrhea.
Health officials might, though, allow one concession following international disgust at the testing method – rather than inserting an anal swab, some travellers might be able to submit a stool sample instead.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
Just as well they cancelled my visa.
Yeah this is gonna get them to avoid importing covid-19 cases because no one will want to go.