Anal swabs are being used to detect COVID-19 in some parts of China because they are thought to be more accurate than conventional nose and throat tests.
Senior doctor Li Tongzeng, from Beijing’s Youan hospital told state broadcaster CCTV that the new method is being used because it is thought to be a more accurate way of detecting the virus.
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He added: “We found that some asymptomatic patients tend to recover quickly. It’s possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days.
“But the virus lasts longer from the samples taken from the patient’s digestive tract and excrement, compared to the ones taken from the respiratory tract.
“If we conduct anal swabs for nucleic acid testing, it would increase the detection rates of patients and lower the chance of a missed diagnosis.”
The test involves inserting the swab into the rectum about three to five centimetres and rotating it twice. On removal, the swab is then put inside a sample container and sent off for testing.
Medical teams started using this approach more frequently when a mass testing drive was introduced after a nine-year-old boy tested positive last week.
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A research paper published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has suggested that stool tests could be a more effective of testing children, rather than carrying out respiratory tests.
The more conventional way of testing, which is being used in the UK, involves holding a sample stick to the back of the throat for several seconds and then it must be inserted into the nose.