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China uses anal swabs to test for COVID-19

China uses anal swabs to test for COVID-19
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Chinese authorities have used coronavirus tests that rely on anal swabs as the country reports an uptick in COVID-19 cases. 

The tests are typically reserved by health care professionals for high-risk cases, such as those in quarantine sites, according to multiple reports citing state-run channel CCTV. 

However, the method was also used in a group of schoolchildren and teachers in Beijing last week, according to multiple reports. Throat and nose swabs were also used in the group. 

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Nose and anal swabs were also taken from a group of passengers on a flight from Changchun, China, to Beijing on Monday. 

Others travelers arriving in Beijing have also been asked to use anal swabs. One woman, who was not identified by name, was asked to use an anal swab in a mandatory hotel quarantine in Beijing alongside several nose and throat tests and a blood test, Bloomberg News reported.

The test can involve inserting a swab about one to two inches into the rectum to gather a sample. 

Some physicians in China have argued that patients recovering from COVID-19 have continued to test positive in samples from the lower digestive tract, even after nasal and throat swabs were negative, according to multiple reports.

But other doctors argue that the inconvenience of the test could prove to be a barrier for patients. 

“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients,” Li Tongzeng, an infectious diseases specialist at Beijing You’an Hospital, told CCTV this week. “But of course considering that collecting anal swabs is not as convenient as throat swabs, at the moment only key groups such as those in quarantine receive both.” 

China has seen an increase in newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the country this month after largely containing the virus for several months last year. Officials have called on residents not to travel in an effort to stop the spread of the virus ahead of the Lunar New Year in February.