China has begun using anal swabs to test those it considers to be at high risk of contracting Covid-19, state TV has reported.

Officials took anal swabs from residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Beijing last week, according to the state broadcaster CCTV, while those in designated quarantine facilities have also had the tests.

Small, localised outbreaks in recent weeks have resulted in multiple cities in northern China being sealed off from the rest of the country and prompted mass testing campaigns, which had mostly been conducted using throat and nose swabs.

The anal swabs method “can increase the detection rate of infected people” as traces of the virus linger longer in the anus than in the respiratory tract, Li Tongzeng, a senior doctor from Beijing’s Youan hospital, told CCTV.

CCTV said on Sunday anal swabs would not be used as widely as other methods, as the technique was “not convenient”.

As cases rise around the world, China has imposed stricter requirements on international arrivals in an effort to keep domestic transmission close to zero.

The country has also tightened internal restrictions, with Beijing announcing that people from medium- or high-risk areas will be barred from the city from Thursday to reduce the risk of transmission over the lunar new year period.

Arrivals into the country must provide multiple negative test results and quarantine for at least 14 days in a designated hotel, with many cities and regions imposing additional home observation requirements.

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