ANYONE flying into China can now be given anal Covid-19 swab as Beijing expands testing

Julia Hartley-Brewer calls on China to pay for international vaccines

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Chinese health chiefs said international arrivals into the capital could be asked to take the tests, but they would not be compulsory for everyone, state media reports. The radical testing regime has already been deployed in Shanghai and the port city of Qingdao.

Passengers arriving from nations deemed high-risk could be required to take the tests in addition to the traditional nasal and throat swab.

Some Chinese medical professionals argue traces of COVID-19 can be detected in the anus for longer than in the respiratory tract.

A member of staff at Beijing’s Daxing district epidemic control department told the Global Times: “If people are not familiar with the procedure for taking an anal swab test, our employees will help explain how it will be done.”

But, the evasive method has been hit with sharp criticism from officials in the US, South Korea and Germany.

Last month, reports emerged that US diplomats arriving in China had to take the tests, something Beijing has denied.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “To my knowledge, China has never required US diplomatic staff stationed in China to conduct anal swab tests.”

A German diplomat also raised concerns about the testing method, Vice news reports.

They said: “We have repeatedly raised that issue vis-à-vis the Chinese government.

“Especially with regard to the medical tests and examinations that are taking place against the will of the persons concerned.”

World Health Organisation spokesman Christian Lindmeier said the global body recommends testing respiratory tract specimens to diagnose diseases.

Meanwhile, China has announced new ambitious vaccination targets to accommodate its huge 1.4 billion population.

Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Beijing has reached the capacity to supply doses to 40 percent of people by the middle of the year.

He added the number of people inoculated would increase to 80 percent by the beginning of 2022.

Mr Fu insisted the “possibility exists” to reach the target, but acknowledged it would be a “complicated process”.

China had administered 52 million vaccine doses by the end of last month.

This figure equates to around four percent of its population – much lower than the UK and US.

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The Chinese Government has approved four domestic vaccines – including one manufactured by Sinovac Biotech – which aims to produce two billion doses by June.

China has largely eradicated coronavirus with less than 20 new infections being diagnosed each day.

Since the start of the pandemic, China says it has recorded more than 89,000 COVID-19 infections and 4,636 deaths.

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