Kenyans oppose Chinese anal swab testing for coronavirus

Anal Swab
Anal swab testing for coronavirus has been introduced in some Chinese cities. [Photo: Forbes]

The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised a red flag over the spread of South Africa’s COVID-19 variant which is deadly.

Dr Matshidiso Moeti who is WHO’s  regional director for Africa said that the 501Y.V2 variant has been reported in several African countries including Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Botswana.

“The variant which was first detected in South Africa has spread quickly beyond Africa and so what’s keeping me awake at night right now is that it’s very likely circulating in a number of African countries,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti told a virtual news conference last week.

A few weeks ago, the Kenyan Ministry of Health said that some foreigners who were in Kenya had the new coronavirus variant but were asymptomatic.

Dr Moeti called on African countries to up their testing standards by providing 20 samples to sequencing laboratories every month to detect any possible cases of the new variant.

But even as WHO makes this call, a section of Kenyans have expressed distaste with the anal swab COVID-19 testing introduced in some Chinese cities.

On Monday, social media was awash with the anal swab debate which Chinese scientists have embarked on to detect coronaviruses.

In this testing, a cotton swab is inserted in the anus between 3-5 cm and gently rotated to get the required sample.

For Kenyans, this a departure from the usual PCR-based oral and nasal-pharyngeal swabs for testing.

When Dr Ahmed Khalebi, a pathologist working with Lancet Kenya spoke to Citizen TV, he explained that it is possible to pick coronavirus from stool.

“If someone has COVID-19, it can be found in the stool and in the anus, we can pick the genetic material, the whole point of testing with the anal swab is that you are able to pick the viral RNA which is there for a longer time compared to the respiratory tract where it stays for a shorter period of time,” Dr Khalebi stated.

The anal swab testing according to medical experts is an effective method in testing for COVID-19 in infants as more viral load can be found in their stool.

However, some Kenyans opposed this saying that it is an affront to humanity.

“Some things are irrational to say the least. This is not welcome here in Kenya because it erodes your dignity and privacy,” one Mbithi Musau said.

Veronicah Kigo added: “I can’t even picture myself taking such a test. How or where do I begin? For me and my family, it is a big NO!”