American diplomats in China were forced to undergo anal swabs for coronavirus testing. According to a spokesperson from the U.S. State Department, Beijing has informed them that the test was given in error and that diplomats are actually exempt from the anal swab.
In some parts of China, the test has been deemed mandatory for incoming travelers.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it… We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past,” the spokesperson told VICE. The spokesperson added that the department would take all steps necessary to protect diplomats’ dignity and their families as laid out in the Vienna Convention.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian denied that authorities had ever asked American diplomats to go through anal swab tests. Communist China started using anal swabs to detect coronavirus earlier this year, specifically for high-risk subjects, people traveling to Beijing, and those already under quarantine.
According to Chinese doctors, anal swabs are critical since the virus lives longer in the excrement or anus than in upper body tracts. This is especially the case for asymptomatic carriers. Contaminated defecation is also an issue as the virus might remain active even after exiting the body.
A few studies that analyzed COVID-19 pneumonia patients have raised the possibility that COVID RNA in the anal swabs might be a good indicator of how severe the disease can be and the likelihood of the person getting admitted to the ICU.
However, some experts have dismissed the need for anal swabs, stating that there is not enough proof of viral transmission through the digestive system. Consequently, throat and nasal swabs should be good enough to detect the virus. There seems to be no coordinated policy for using anal swabs. Many patients were caught off guard when required to take the test.
Almost all online reactions point to the test being humiliating and awkward. One woman admitted to having a mental breakdown. Another person said that he felt a “sense of shame,” but other than that, it wasn’t too uncomfortable.
Alternative coronavirus tests
While the anal swab is an unpleasant way to test for COVID-19, other unconventional detection methods are being used. In many places, dogs are being used to sniff out potentially infected people subjected to a detailed test. Dogs have 350 million sensory receptors dedicated to smell.
“Viruses themselves do not produce odors. When the virus has infected our cells, this can have a knock-on effect on various systems within the body, which results in odors being released through our skin and breath. So there was a really strong likelihood that coronavirus would produce a distinct odor as well,” James Logan, who has been working in disease control for two decades, told The Guardian.
Another unique method is to sniff coffee. One of the CCP virus’s most prominent symptoms is anosmia, or a diminished taste and loss of smell. Coffee has a distinct, robust flavor and smell, making it an excellent test item. Being unable to smell the aroma of coffee could indicate potential infection.