Some Chinese cities are now screening for COVID-19 by means of anal swabs rather than the standard nose and throat swabs.
According to AlJazeera, there has been a justification that they may be more effective than the regular or standard swabs. It basically consists of inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres into the anus.
A city official in Weinan in northern Shaanxi province reportedly said a 52-year-old man with symptoms including coughing initially tested negative for COVID-19 but after he was tested via an anal swab, the test came back positive.
According to Aljazeera, Zhang Wenhong of Huashan Hospital in Shanghai said: “there may be traces of the coronavirus detected in the abdominal cavity faeces and intestine.”
A respiratory and infectious disease specialist in Beijing city Dr Li Tongzeng said additional tests using anal swabs can pick up infections that other tests miss, as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in samples taken from the upper respiratory tract. Li added that such samples were only necessary for groups such as those in quarantine.
When The South African asked South Africa’s National Health Department for comment regarding anal swabs being used to test for COVID-19, there was no response.
While China uses anal swabs, it’s not clear if it will be the method of choice here in SA and while we’re on that topic, it may be a good idea to check out the latest COVID-19 figures here in South Africa.
To break it down, six patients from the Eastern Cape, 17 from the Free State, 75 from Gauteng, 261 from KwaZulu-Natal, 219 from Limpopo, 16 from Mpumalanga, 50 from the North West, seven from Northern Cape and 102 from the Western Cape.