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Stop doing anal Covid tests on our citizens, Japan tells China

The Japanese government has asked Chinese authorities to stop carrying out anal swab tests for Covid-19 on its citizens because the procedure causes psychological pain. 

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, said some Japanese reported the procedure at the country’s embassy in China. 

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

He also said the Japanese government had not received a response that Beijing would change the testing procedure, so Japan would continue to ask China to alter the way of testing.

It was not known how many Japanese citizens received such tests for the coronavirus, he said. 

Some Chinese cities were reportedly using samples taken from the anus to detect potential coronavirus infections.  To collect test samples, the swab needs to be inserted about three to five centimetres (1.2 to 2 inches) into the rectum and rotated several times. 

Asked about the complaint, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing’s testing methods were “science-based” and “in accordance with the changes in the epidemic situation as well as relevant laws and regulations”.

This comes days after China’s foreign ministry denied that US diplomats in the country had been required to take anal swab tests for Covid-19, following media reports that some had complained about the procedure.

Tests using anal swabs can avoid missing infections as virus traces in faecal samples or anal swabs could remain detectable for a longer time than in those from the respiratory tract, Li Tongzeng, a respiratory diseases doctor in Beijing, told state television back in January.

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