No worries, American diplomats in China: You can keep your pants on. Per a report Wednesday in Vice, the Chinese government vowed this week to stop performing anal swab COVID tests on diplomats from the States, after news on that supposed occurrence prompted a complaint from the US State Department to China's Foreign Ministry. Even though outside travelers to some parts of China are made to take the test, a State Department rep says China told the department that test had been given "in error" to US diplomatic personnel, as they're exempt from it. The rep added the department was committed to preserving the diplomats' "dignity." On Thursday, however, China denied US diplomats had been subjected to anal swabs altogether. "To my knowledge ... China has never required US diplomatic staff stationed in China to conduct anal swab tests," a ministry spokesman said at a Beijing news conference, per Reuters.
Earlier this month, China's National Health Commission said that COVID is more easily detectable via anal samples than ones taken from the nose and throat. However, the commission has since conceded that mass use of this method isn't ideal, as it's "inconvenient and unpopular," per Vice. And one Wuhan University pathologist says nose and throat swabs are still more efficient. "There have been cases concerning the coronavirus testing positive in a patient's excrement, but no evidence has suggested it had been transmitted through one's digestive system," Yang Zhanqiu tells the Global Times. US experts agree. "It's well established that the gold standard or best sample to take is something upper respiratory," UCLA Health pathologist Omai Garner tells Healthline, though the outlet notes that stool samples are often used as a more noninvasive testing method for babies, young children, and those who have trouble undergoing nasal or throat swabs. (Read more China stories.)