No anal swabs, please.
The Japanese government on Monday called for China to stop using the invasive new testing method on visitors from Japan, citing the obviously cringe-inducing impact on test subjects.
“Some Japanese reported to our embassy in China that they received anal swab tests, which caused a great psychological pain,” Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said at a news conference on Monday.
Kato says he’s not sure how many Japanese visitors have been tested in such a way, but he is urging China to immediately stop using the practice on his people.
He added that China has not yet responded to his request.
The request comes roughly a month after China was accused of forcing U.S. diplomats to take the same anal swab tests. China’s foreign ministry denied the reports at the time.
Nose-and-mouth swabs remain the most popular method for COVID-19 testing around the world. Anal swabbing has become the No. 2 method for testing in China, where state media recently published stories touting its benefits.
Chinese doctors floated the notion to the public in late January, ahead of the country’s busy Lunar New Year season, but they suggested at the time that the tests should be reserved for high-risk patients.
“If we add anal swab testing, it can raise our rate of identifying infected patients,” Li Tongzeng, a deputy director in charge of infectious disease at Beijing You’an Hospital, said on CCTV in January. “But of course considering that collecting anal swabs is not as convenient as throat swabs, at the moment only key groups such as those in quarantine receive both.”
Many Chinese citizens clenched up at the idea, according to reports at the time.
“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” one user said on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service.
The tests have reportedly been rolled out in several Chinese cities.
China has not officially warned international visitors about the overly familiar welcome they might receive upon arrival.
That means if you are travelling to China in the near future, you might want to watch your behind.
—With files from Reuters