On Thursday, the Chinese government promised the United States government that they will stop carrying out anal swab tests on US diplomats to test for Covid-19 after Washington complained that such practices were ‘undignified’, as per reports.
According to reports in US media, the US State Department had protested with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday after the Chinese authorities had subjected US diplomats to anal swab tests for Covid-19.
The authorities in a few Chinese provinces have been ordering anal swabs for people under quarantine, including travellers from abroad. China has now reportedly enforced anal swab tests for Covid-19 as they think throat or nasal swabs can miss infections.
China’s National Health Commission has contended that the coronavirus can be more readily detected in anal samples than in throat and nasal samples as traces of the virus stay in the faecal matter for a longer time than that in the respiratory tract.
However, It is not clear how many US diplomats or their family members were subjected to such tests.
Anal swab tests were done on US diplomats by mistake
As per reports, the US State Department spokesperson had said that they were committed to guaranteeing the safety and security of American diplomats and their families while ‘preserving their dignity’, consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, as well as other relevant diplomatic law provisions.
A report in Vice quoted a US State Department official as saying, “The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it”.
Initially, China denied carrying out such tests on the US diplomats. Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also said that he had checked with his colleagues and said China has never asked US diplomats stationed in China to have anal swab tests.
However, the Chinese authorities later acknowledged carrying out such tests and assured that they would not be using anal swabs on American diplomats to test for COVID-19 in the future. The spokesperson insisted that Beijing has promised the US government that the tests were given “in error” and that diplomatic personnel were exempt from the test, which was mandatory for incoming travellers in some parts of China.
“We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past,” said the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.