The US State Department has complained after discovering its diplomats were asked to undergo anal swab coronavirus tests, saying it’s undignified.
“The State Department never agreed to this kind of testing and protested directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when we learned that some staff were subject to it,” a US State Department spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The spokesperson said the State Department is committed to preserving the “dignity” of American diplomats and their families, in line with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and other diplomatic law provisions.
RELATED: China explodes at ‘racist’ Australia
RELATED: China mocks US ‘failures’ in crisis
Officials in Beijing have since told the US government the tests were given “in error” according to the report, and said diplomats were exempt from those types of coronavirus tests. Anal swabs are mandatory for other travellers in some parts of China.
“We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past,” the State Department spokesperson said.
The Vice report said it was “not clear” how many US diplomats and their family members had the test.
However, Zhao Lijian, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, later denied any US diplomats had been asked to undergo anal swabs.
“As far as I know, and I have also checked with my colleagues, China has never asked US diplomats in China to take anal swab tests,” Mr Lijian said during a media address on Thursday.
A US diplomatic source later claimed representatives have been “negotiating with the Chinese for a while” over the anal swabs, according to reporting by CNN.
International arrivals in Beijing and Qingdao are required to undergo the invasive test before completing quarantine periods.
The government announced the introduction of the test last month, claiming it was more accurate at detecting COVID-19 than nasal swabs.
People in China were previously tested nasally, however in January residents began reporting they’d been given anal samples.
The samples are taken by inserting a cotton swab three to five centimetres into the rectum.