China brought back anal testing for Covid-19 to check for Omicron variants, two weeks ahead of Beijing’s Winter Olympics. 

The controversial anal blood test was conducted on at least 27 people in Beijing. The tests were performed at an apartment block where Omicron had been contracted by a woman aged 26. According to Chinese newspaper The Beijing News.

Anal tests are performed by inserting a sterilized cotton swab approximately 2 inches (5 cm) deep into the rectum, and then rotating it multiple times. After the swab has been removed, it is analysed in a laboratory.

Beijing is currently under strict quarantine and testing after it reported the Omicron infection to its first locale on January 15. As per the official Xinhua News Agency, eleven cases of Omicron have been reported in Beijing as of Thursday afternoon.

A diagram used by a Chinese doctor to explain the use of anal tests for Covid-19, a practice which has drawn protests from various foreign governments

Diagram used by a Chinese physician to illustrate the application of anal tests for Covid-19. This practice has been criticized by various governments. 

A security guard wearing a face mask walks not far from the venues for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, in Beijing, China, on 17 January

On 17 January, a security guard in a mask walks near the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics venues, Beijing, China. 

China announced earlier this week that it would no longer sell tickets for the Olympics to the general public and will allow only selected spectators to go. This is because the Covid-19 cases have reached their highest level since March 2020.

And organizers today said the already scaled back Olympics torch relay will be cordoned off from the general public because of Covid measures. 

The residential area of Haidian district where the confirmed Omicron case lives has been sealed off, with large barriers erected to stop people from going in and out, while tests – including anal swabs – are conducted.  

Since 2020, anal swab testing is used in China. However, it became more common in Beijing in January 2021 when a 9-year-old boy was positive for the virus.

China caused further controversy when it extended the availability of anal swabs for foreign travelers flying into Beijing in March 2013. 

Chinese state media was told at that time by staff from Beijing’s epidemic control agency that anyone arriving in Beijing might be asked to have the test. However, they aren’t mandatory for everyone.  

Shanghai required that all passengers from high risk regions or those with five or more positive cases be tested.

All countries, including the USA, Japan, South Korea, Germany and South Korea, raised concern about these tests. However, China denies that such tests are necessary for US diplomats. 

According to doctors, the test can detect bacteria in the throat and respiratory tract for longer time than it is in the respiratory.

A health worker wears protective clothing as he helps people register for a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 at a private testing site on January 17, 2022 in Beijing, China

As a health worker helps individuals register to take the COVID-19 nucleic acid test at a private site in Beijing on January 17, 2022, he wears protective clothes

China has avoided large-scale virus outbreaks by using a combination of mass COVID-19 screenings, lockdowns, and travel restrictions. It continues to battle surges in several cities though, such as the port at Tianjin which is located about one hour from Beijing. 

Beijing has now tested 13,000 more people since their Omicron cases. in search of cases of cross transmission.

On Sunday, the building in which the positive test resulted was closed to the public. Employees were prohibited from leaving the premises and had to undergo compulsory Covid-19 testing.

For those who were stuck in the building, Covid control agents disguised as masks carried large bags of bedding to their offices. 

Omicron’s emergence in Beijing, and the average 130 Covid cases reported daily have meant that the Winter Olympics organizers have imposed strict rules on their Games. 

Today’s announcement by organizers was that Covid measures would make the torch relay closed to the general public.   

This relay will involve 1,200 torchbearers and travel across three Games sites. It also visits tourist attractions like the Great Wall, which opens from February 2, to 4.

Yang Haibin, an official of the Games Organising Committee responsible for torch relay said, “Safety will always have priority for this torch relay.”

“Given epidemi control considerations… the torch-relay and ceremonial activities are arranged in safe, controllable closed locations.”

China this week The plans to offer tickets for the Winter Olympics in Beijing were cancelled and only selected spectators will have the right to go.

boy is swabbed by a health worker during a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 at a private testing site on January 17 in Beijing following the positive test of a 26-year-old woman in the city

After a positive test by 26-year-old female in Beijing, a worker from the health department swabs the boy.

Beijing has already said that fans from China will not be allowed to watch the events, due in part to China’s long quarantine. But they have promised to let domestic audiences attend.

The organisers canceled the plans on Monday, as China announced 127 new infections in China just weeks before the Winter Olympics.     

Monday’s announcement on the organizing committee’s site confirmed that there would be few people watching the Winter Games, which will take place under stricter conditions than the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.       

Beijing’s travel restrictions have been increased. Visitors must submit recent negative tests results to China as China is fighting multiple national epidemics. 

A health worker (L) takes a swab sample from a man to test for Covid-19 in Beijing on January 20

An L-shaped health worker examines a specimen from a man in order to determine if Covid-19 was present. The test took place in Beijing on 20 January.

Many millions of people are still under guard in China, as part of China’s “zero tolerance” approach to dealing the pandemic. This has been acknowledged with helping prevent outbreaks of the same scale in other countries.  

The number of cases has dropped significantly in the last few days due to strict compliance with travel restrictions, school closings and masking. There is also a high vaccination rate at 85 percent.

Experts in medicine worry that this virus may be resistant to treatment by the Chinese. 

Similar political and medical controversies have plagued the Winter Games.

Six weeks ago, several allies, including the U.S. and the UK, declared that they wouldn’t send any dignitaries for the Games to protest the violations of human rights by the Communist Party.

The organizing committee has threatened the athletes with “certain punishments” if they say or do anything to offend Chinese host. Additionally, several delegations advised those traveling to Beijing that their phones should be used as a backup device because it is possible to compromise their privacy.

National Hockey League claimed that the Pandemic caused uncertainty to keep all of their players away from the Olympic tournament.

Earlier this week, NBC, the U.S. broadcaster, stated that it would not send announcing teams from China due to the virus concerns expressed by the network when they pulled all of its broadcasters out of the Tokyo Games.