The U.S. State Department says that China forced American diplomats to take invasive anal swab tests to detect COVID-19 infection, according to various reports Thursday.
What are the details?
According to the Insider, a state department representative said that the United States complained to China after it learned that staffers were subjected to the anal swab.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Minister of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it,” the representative said.
The representative added that China also said the tests were given to American diplomats “in error” and that the diplomats were supposed to be exempt from the test.
During a Thursday press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said, “I have checked with my colleagues. As far as I know, China has never required U.S. diplomatic staff in the country to take anal swab tests.”
According to a related report from Vice, it was not immediately clear how many diplomatic employees or members of their families were made to take the tests.
Insider reported that the test involves inserting a cotton-tipped swab one to two inches into the rectum and rotating it.
In a statement, the State Department said that it is committed to preserving the “dignity” of American diplomats.
According to a Thursday report from the BBC, Li Tongzeng — a respiratory and infectious diseases expert in Beijing — said that anal swabbing can “avoid missing infections as virus traces are detectable for a longer time than the more common COVID tests used in the mouth and nose.
At the time, Li insisted that the tests were only necessary for certain populations, such as those under quarantine orders.