Beijing is on high alert after two cases of COVID-19 with the Britain strain surfaced. This has resulted in rapid mass-testing campaigns that have started across the city of Beijing, which commenced on Friday.
But what’s surprising is that there is a slight change in the authorities’ testing methodology. Reported first by Global Times, China’s collecting serum antibody tests, nasal, throat swabs, which is fine. However, now they’re even collecting anal swabs of people, which is definitely causing some heads to turn.
Li Tonzeng, a deputy director in charge of infectious diseases at Beijing You’an Hospital claimed (in a conversation with China Central Television) that COVID-19 survives longer in anus or excrement, as per recent studies, compared to upper body tracts whereas for some asymptomatic carriers, virus could be in their throats for three to five days resulting in false-negative results.
Li states that in such cases, taking an anal swab could offer more accurate results in key groups. He also mentioned that since the process is a bit more cumbersome than others, it will only be done to a key group of people at specific quarantine centres.
But not everyone is convinced with this method of COVID-19 testing. Yang Zhaniq, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said in a statement to Global Times that since the virus is contracted through the upper respiratory tract and not the digestive system, nasal and throat swabs are still the right way to go.
He mentioned that even though there have been cases that have shown the presence of the novel coronavirus in a patient’s excrement, there is no particular evidence that suggests its transmission through the digestive system.
Authorities in Beijing have announced that they’ll be conducting serum antibody tests for all travellers who have entered the nation since December 2020 to help locate chain of transmission in the most recent bunch of cases found in Beijing’s Daxing district.
That China’s testing for SARS-COV2 virus in the anal tract of patients is another bizarre twist in the pathology of this novel coronavirus, which begins infecting people by the respiratory tract — literally the other end of the human body.
While there is no information on India doing similar testing, it’s better to be safe indoors, follow social distancing and wear face masks, than being in line to be the next to have your anus swabbed for likely signs of the coronavirus.