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Passengers on a flight from Changchun to Beijing in China were reportedly ordered to disembark after officials said one came from an area deemed as high risk for COVID-19. They were then brought to a hotel “where health workers took nose and anal swabs, said a passenger who asked to be identified only by his last name, Wang,” The National Post reported.
“Some people arriving into Beijing are being asked to undertake anal swabs as well, with one traveler who came from Hong Kong a few weeks ago telling Bloomberg News she was told to do the swab herself while in mandatory hotel quarantine,” the Post wrote.
The latest report comes as health officials across China have begun using anal swabs to test its residents for COVID-19, “a method that experts say is more accurate and raises the chances of detecting the virus,” the Daily Mail reported on Wednesday.
“To collect test samples, the swab needs to be inserted about three to five centimeters (1.2 to 2 inches) into the rectum and rotated several times. After completing the motion twice, the swab is removed before being securely placed inside a sample container. The whole procedure is said to take about 10 seconds,” said the U.K. paper.
The Mail cited Li Tongzeng from Beijing’s You’an Hospital, who said on state broadcaster CCTV that traces of the coronavirus are detectable longer in the anus or in feces than samples taken from the throat and nose.
“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,” Li said. “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,” the expert said.
The new method of testing began just recently, The Washington Post reported.
“Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative,” said the Post.
“Yet for many, it seemed a step too far in government intrusions after a year and counting of a dignity-eroding pandemic. ‘Everyone involved will be so embarrassed,’ one user in Guangdong province said on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, on Wednesday. In a Weibo poll, 80 percent of respondents said they ‘could not accept’ the invasive method,” the paper wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says “for initial diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2, CDC recommends collecting and testing an upper respiratory specimen.”
“Sterile swabs should be used for the collection of upper respiratory specimens. This is important to preserve both patient safety and specimen integrity. Please note that nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal specimens are not appropriate for self-collection.”