Japan asks China to stop subjecting Japanese citizens to Covid-19 anal swab tests

United States has requested the same.

Belmont Lay | March 02, 2021, 04:14 AM

Stop making Japanese citizens take anal swab tests for Covid-19, Tokyo has reportedly requested Beijing to put an end to the procedure as it causes psychological pain, according to Reuters.

Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato, a Japanese government spokesman, said on March 1 the request has been made, but no response from Beijing has been received.

As a result, Japan would continue to ask China to alter the way of testing.

"Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused a great psychologial pain," Kato told a news conference.

The number of Japanese citizens subjected to such tests for the coronavirus is not known though, he added.

United States made similar request

This request by the Japanese is apparently not unique.

Barely four days before Japan's request, United States officials in China had also asked local authorities to refrain from subjecting U.S. staff in the country to Covid-19 anal swabs.

This revelation was made by a U.S. diplomat based in China, mainstream U.S. media outlets all reported.

China responded to anal swab claims

On Feb. 25, China responded to a Vice News report that claimed that U.S. diplomats in the country were complaining after having been anal swabbed.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in response on Thursday that it was unaware of anal swab tests being administered.

Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing: "As far as I know, and I have also checked with my colleagues, China has never asked US diplomats in China to take anal swab tests."

U.S. responds to China

That same day, a state department spokesperson told CNN in a statement: "The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to [China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs] when we learned that some staff were subject to it."

"We have received assurances from [the ministry] that this was in error and that diplomatic personnel are exempt from this testing requirement. We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them (as was done in the past)," the statement added.

A U.S. diplomatic source also told CNN that U.S. representatives in China have been "negotiating with the Chinese for a while" to avoid their staff being subjected to such tests.

Background about Covid-19 anal swab tests

Chinese state media have been reporting in the last few weeks that anal swab tests were being administered in some cities.

Samples taken from the anus to detect potential Covid-19 infections are supposedly part of China stepping up screening to make sure no potential carrier of the new coronavirus is missed.

The tests involve inserting a cotton swab 3cm to 5cm (1.2-2.0 inches) into the anus and gently rotating it.

Some doctors and studies in China consider anal swabs more reliable than nasal or throat swab tests.

However, the literature is presently unclear whether anal swabs are more efficient at detecting Covid-19.

Top photos via Weibo & Xinhua.net