Chinese health authorities have reinstated rectal swabbing to collect samples for Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. The practice was earlier scrapped amid reports of diplomats being subjected to the intrusive collection method.
According to a report translated by Insider, at least 27 residents of an apartment building in Beijing’s Haidian district underwent anal swabbing. The translated report from state-owned media outlet Beijing News said the rectal swabs were among the equipment the COVID-19 testing unit sent to the apartment complex.
The article insinuated that while everyone felt nervous about the COVID-19 outbreak in the Chinese capital, they were also willing to do their part to control it – even by submitting to rectal swabbing.
Rectal swabbing involves the insertion of a cotton swab around one to two inches into the rectum to collect samples. The swab sample is then tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA at a laboratory. Rectal swabs are analyzed in the same manner as polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 tests, the only difference being that samples for the latter are collected from the nose or throat. (Related: China now using anal swabs to detect coronavirus.)
Located in the northwestern portion of Beijing, the Haidian district is where the first patient infected with the B11529 Omicron variant lives. According to health officials in the district, the woman infected with Omicron transmitted the virus to two other individuals.
In response, the infected woman’s home and workplace were sealed off. Authorities then collected thousands of test samples from people living or working in the same locations as the woman – including the 27 apartment residents.
Back in January 2021, another state-owned media outlet defended the use of rectal swabbing to track COVID-19 infection. Global Times mentioned in an article that time authorities used rectal samples for “key groups” of people sent to quarantine centers to increase COVID-19 testing accuracy. However, it appears that only China has engaged in rectal swabbing to collect samples for testing.
However, the practice of rectal swabbing has been decried by foreign nationals from different countries worldwide.
In February 2021, a spokesperson for the State Department confirmed that China conducted rectal swabbing on U.S. diplomats. However, Beijing claimed that this was done “in error” and promised to exempt American diplomats from the intrusive process in the future. The spokesperson’s confirmation followed complaints by diplomatic staff in the communist country being subjected to the process.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the [Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs] when we learned that some staff was subject to it. [We are] committed to guaranteeing the safety and security of American diplomats and their families while preserving their dignity,” the spokesperson told Epoch Times in a Feb. 25 email. (Related: American diplomats in China were FORCED to take humiliating and invasive coronavirus anal swab tests.)
The spokesperson added that the ministry has assured the tests were done “in error” and reiterated that “diplomatic personnel is exempt from this testing requirement.” They said: “We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past.”
Aside from the U.S., Japan has also spoken out about the invasive practice. It called on Beijing to halt the method of sample collection immediately as it caused psychological pain. Tokyo’s calls to stop rectal swabbing came a month after American diplomats lodged their complaint.
Katsunobu Kato, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary at that time, revealed this fact during a March 1, 2021 news conference. He told reporters: “Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which causes a great psychological pain.” Kato added that the number of Japanese subjected to rectal swabbing was unknown. He eventually stepped down from the post seven months later in October 2021.
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