Despite the denial, the State Dept said Chinese officials said they gave the anal tests “in error.”
A State Department spokesman told VICE World News that China gave U.S. diplomats anal COVID tests.
Beijing “promised to stop using” those tests on diplomats. But now reports say China denies ever administering the tests.
From VICE World News on Wednesday:
“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,” a State Department spokesperson told VICE World News on Wednesday.
The spokesperson said Beijing had assured Washington that the test was given “in error” and that diplomatic personnel were exempt from the test, which was mandatory for incoming travelers in some parts of China.
“We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past.”
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denied everything on Thursday:
“To my knowledge…China has never required U.S. diplomatic staff stationed in China to conduct anal swab tests,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily news briefing in Beijing.
Last month, a few regions in China began giving anal swab tests to those in quarantine and travelers from other countries.
Vice reported China has been using the tests for a while. Authorities insist these tests provide more accurate test results:
Li Tongzeng, a doctor at the Beijing You’an Hospital, told state broadcaster CCTV that in some mild and asymptomatic cases, the virus could only be detected in anal samples but not in the respiratory swabs.
Li said conducting both anal and throat swabs would reduce the chances of missed infections. But since it’s not convenient to do anal swabs for large numbers of people, the test is now only required for the “key population,” such as those under quarantine, he said.
One study backed Li’s claims:
A study in Weihai found the coronavirus was positive in anal swabs but negative in other sample types of several cured patients. Another study in the southern city of Guangzhou showed the detection of the virus in anal swabs was a potential warning indicator of severe disease.
Researchers are still trying to confirm whether the coronavirus can transmit through feces or urine. One study about an outbreak at an apartment building in Guangzhou suggested the virus might have spread through the wastewater system.
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