China has made anal COVID-19 swabs mandatory for all foreign travellers arriving in the country. The government has claimed that such tests provide a higher degree of accuracy than other screening methods for the virus.
As part of the new travel requirement, there will be testing hubs in Beijing and Shanghai airports, the outlet reported.
Li Tongzeng, a respiratory disease medic, said the anal swabs are better because virus traces stay in fecal samples longer than they do in the nose or throat, state media reported.
The move comes after Japan asked China to stop performing the exams on its citizens when they enter the country because the swabs cause mental anguish.
"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.
What are anal swab tests?
The Chinese Center for Disease Control says the test is performed with a sterile cotton swab, which looks like a very long ear bud, that is inserted 3 cm to 5 cm (1.2 inches to 2 inches) into the anus before being gently rotated out.
Such tests can ensure infections are spotted, since coronavirus traces can be detectable in the anus for longer than in the respiratory tract, some Chinese doctors told state media.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends testing respiratory tract specimens, where possible, to diagnose respiratory diseases because they give the best samples, spokesman Christian Lindmeier said in an email to Reuters.
"Faecal samples may offer an alternative testing material, especially in patients with gastrointestinal symptoms," he said, but they are "less likely than respiratory samples to be positive in the first week of symptoms."