The Chinese recently made public their use of anal swabs to screen patients for COVID-19.
This new method of testing arrives as China is now seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases ahead of their annual Lunar New Year celebrations.
The Hill reports that Chinese health care professionals only perform the COVID-19 anal swab tests on patients who are considered high-risk. However, Forbes notes that some individual have been required to take a surprise anal test, including airline passengers who recently arrived in Beijing as well as over 1,000 children and teachers at a local school who were reportedly exposed to to the virus.
WebMD explains that the test involves inserting a saline-covered swab about one to two inches into a person’s rectum in order gain a proper sample.
The Deputy Director of the Respiratory and Infectious Diseases Department at Beijing Youan Hospital, Li Tonzeng, explains that the results of these anal swab tests appear to be more accurate than those conducted nasally. This may be due to the fact that the coronavirus lives longer in excrement or the anal tract than it would in the respiratory tract.
Some studies have also found that while some patients tested negative for the coronavirus after getting their throats swabbed, they tested positive after receiving the anal swabs.
However, Bloomberg further reports that there’s no clear evidence that the disease transmission is any more common in those who test positive in their anuses.
Anal swabbing has also not been implemented in places such as New Zealand that have nearly eradicated the presence of the coronavirus.