The Slatest

China Is Now Requiring COVID-19 Tests Taken by Anal Swab

A health worker in full protective gear administers a coronavirus swab in a patient’s nose in a makeshift tent.
The old-fashioned way. Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

In America, getting citizens to just wear masks—for the love of God—has been an impossibly big ask. As such, the country is now the world leader in just about every one of the bad COVID-19 indicators. Meanwhile, in China, the birthplace of the coronavirus pandemic, the government is tightening up its already draconian measures and introducing a new testing protocol that, Chinese doctors say, is more accurate and will help suppress the virus. There is one catch however: It requires an anal swab. Certainly makes having to wear mask seem like no big deal.


The government’s rationale for the latest testing regimen is that there is data suggesting that patients recovering from the virus will sometimes test negative with a traditional nasal or throat swab but continue to test positive days later in samples taken from the lower digestive tract. “As for how the test is conducted, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention published instructions last March,” the Washington Post reports. “It said that a stool sample should be taken from patients, and if that is not possible, to do an anal swab by inserting a cotton-tipped stick three to five centimeters (one to two inches) into the rectum.”

The Chinese government has recently reimposed more stringent coronavirus restrictions as it battles to contain outbreaks ahead of the Lunar New Year next month, a holiday period when huge swaths of the country travel home. So far the anal swab has reportedly only been used in particularly high-risk situations. “Officials took anal swabs from residents of neighborhoods with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Beijing last week, according to the state broadcaster CCTV, while those in designated quarantine facilities have also had the tests,” Agence France-Presse reports.