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Photo credit: MUFID MAJNUN VIA UNSPLASH, SCREENSHOT FROM WEIBO

China using anal swabs for COVID-19 tests

An anal swab, which takes about 10 seconds, is “more accurate”, say researchers from China.

Phoon Jia Hui
Phoon Jia Hui

Jack of all trades, master of drinking boba milk tea.


Published: 28 January 2021, 4:04 PM

Officials from China are starting to use anal swabs to test those with a high risk of contracting the coronavirus as the country continues to battle the disease and outbreaks in some regions. 

An anal swab, which takes about 10 seconds, is conducted by first inserting a cotton-tipped stick about 3cm to 5cm into the rectum, twirling the stick around four to five times before pulling it out. 

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday (Jan 27) that a study by a group of Chinese researchers in August 2020 have shown that anal swab tests are more accurate than the throat method. 

This comes after tests were conducted in March 2020, where some anal swab samples from recovering COVID-19 patients indicating that they were positive despite their throat swabs testing negative. 

Li Tongzeng, a senior doctor from Beijing’s You’an Hospital, was quoted on CCTV as saying that the anal swabs method “can increase the detection rate of infected people” as traces of the virus linger longer in the anus than in the respiratory tract. 

An instructional video of the entire process was uploaded on Weibo, a China-based social media platform. 

The measure sparked quite a reaction online, with some netizens on Weibo coming out to comment on it.

While most have expressed disgust, one user managed to find the humorous side to it.  

“I dreamt that I had to do an anal swab test, and just couldn’t pull it out as hard as I tried. Afterwards… it’s too disgusting, let’s not talk about it,” the user said.


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