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China Denies Requiring US Diplomatic Staff to Take COVID-19 Anal Swab Tests

A woman wearing a face mask sits near a screen showing China and U.S. flags as she listens to a speech by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Lanting Forum on bringing China-U.S. relations, Beijing, Feb. 22, 2021.

China’s Foreign Ministry denied Thursday it ever required U.S. diplomats to submit to COVID-19 anal swab tests, disputing media reports that some personnel had complained.

The Washington Post reported last week that U.S. State Department officials were looking into the complaints. The Post reports a State Department spokesman told reporters the department was “evaluating all reasonable options” to address the issue with the aim of preserving the “dignity” of U.S. officials “consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”

Some Chinese doctors have said the anal swab test is more accurate and effective than a nasal swab, despite the unpleasant nature.

But at a news briefing in Beijing, China Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters, "Upon verification with my colleagues, China has never asked U.S. diplomats in China to go through anal swab tests."

U.S. media outlet Vice Wednesday quoted a State Department official as saying the test had been given in error, and that China said it would stop such tests on U.S. diplomats.