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China using anal swabs for testing COVID-19: report

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China has begun testing people it considers as high risk for contracting COVID-19 with anal swabs amid a new outbreak, Newsweek reported Tuesday, saying that more than a million Beijing residents have undergone such a test. Local experts are reported as saying the rectal method is more accurate than the commonplace nasal test.

Public health authorities in Beijing said they were seeking to screen over 2 million people in 48 hours, according to the publication. Of those people, about 1.6 million Daxing residents were to be given antibody tests in addition to the throat, nasal, and rectal nucleic acid swabs.

Notably, the publication reported that anal swabs have been used since last year—but for those living in coronavirus hotspots such as Shanghai, according to an infectious disease expert quoted by China’s state broadcaster CCTV on Saturday.

“Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, we’ve tested for the virus using mainly throat swabs. Its characteristics are convenience and speed, so it’s suitable for large-scale testing,” Beijing You’an Hospital’s Li Tongzeng said, per Newsweek. “Nasal swabs are more accurate than throat swabs, but nasal swabs can be uncomfortable.”

“In some asymptomatic cases or in individuals with mild symptoms, they tend to recover from the illness very quickly,” he added. “It’s possible that there will be no trace of the virus in their throat after three to five days.

“What we’ve found is that in some infected patients, the coronavirus survives for a longer period of time in their digestive tract or excrement than in their respiratory tract,” Li also said.

The anal swabs are meant to be inserted 3 to 5 centimeters (1.2 to 2 inches) up the patient’s rectum, according to guidelines published by China’s National Health Commission, per Newsweek.

On Sunday, CCTV said that anal swabs would not be used as widely as other methods, saying the method was “not convenient,” according to The Guardian.

Li also said that anal swabs boost the COVID-19 detectability rate and decrease the likelihood of false positives.

“Of course, anal swabs aren’t as convenient as throat swabs, so they’re only being used on individuals in key quarantine areas,” Li added, per Newsweek. “This will reduce the return of false positives.”

This reporter reached out to the White House and to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for comment about these rectal tests but received no response.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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New documents show China trying to establish ‘satellite state’ in Caribbean

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China has been “exploiting a fragile security environment and taking advantage of the region’s need for economic investment to gain influence and advance its malign agenda” in a move that challenges U.S. hegemony in the Americas, U.S. Southern Command Comm. General Laura Richardson recently told Congress in written testimony.

The Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, located about 220 miles from the U.S. Virgin Islands, is where China is planning to establish a special Chinese-run economic zone, according to documents reviewed by Newsweek

Just The News  reports that per the documents, the area will have its own customs and immigration facilities, a shipping port and it will even issue passports. China will also establish different kinds of businesses that will specialize in things from facial surgery to virology, the latter of which is closely associated with the research in Wuhan that is the suspected source of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson for SOUTHCOM said that the U.S. military is “aware that China may use its commercial and diplomatic presence for military purposes. In Asia, Africa and the Middle East, China has already abused commercial agreements at host-country ports for military aims; our concern is they may do the same in this region.”

More than two-thirds of the 31 nations under SOUTHCOM’s responsibility have signed onto China’s belt-and-road initiative, which is Beijing’s program to lend money to developing nations to use for infrastructure projects, according to Just The News.

Several nations have had problems with repaying such loans, resulting in Beijing seizing the country’s assets. For example, Sri Lanka struggled to pay back Beijing in 2017 and instead signed off the rights to a strategic port, according to Foreign Policy.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., a member of the House Oversight Committee proving China’s incursion inside the U.S. sphere of influence, told Just the News on Monday night that Beijing’s aggression in the Caribbean reminded him of the Soviet’s intervention in Fidel Castro’s Cuba more than a half century earlier.

“It reminds me of Russia’s involvement in Cuba, just 220 miles off the shore of the US Virgin Islands. We have Antigua. It used to be considered the United States back yard. Unfortunately, today, it’s China’s front yard,” Burlison told the “Just the News, No Noise television show. “And China has used the united front to enter into loan agreements and contracts to create trade zones within Antigua in order to gain a foothold into the Caribbean.”

“And this is just part of their efforts around the globe, whether it’s in African countries or Laos. They’re they’re creating a network to try to undermine the U.S. dollar and try to end run around some of our tariffs and other programs,” he warned.

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