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

Tokyo has requested Beijing to stop taking anal swab tests for Covid-19 on Japanese citizens because the procedure causes psychological pain, a government spokesperson has said.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, said the 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.

“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.

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

Some Chinese cities were using samples taken from the anus to detect potential coronavirus infections as China stepped up screening to make sure no potential infection was missed. In January, state TV said the swabs were being used to test those China considered to be at high risk of contracting coronavirus.

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”.

China’s foreign ministry denied last month 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 in January.

Stool tests may also be more effective in finding infections in children and infants as their waste carries a higher viral load than adults, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said in a paper published last year.

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