China has begun using anal swabs to test those it considers at high risk of contracting Covid-19, state TV reported, with social media users and travellers squirming over the invasive procedure which doctors say can be more effective in detecting the virus.

China deploys anal swabs to test for Covid-19

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China has begun using anal swabs to test those it considers at high risk of contracting Covid-19, state TV reported, with social media users and travellers squirming over the invasive procedure which doctors say can be more effective in detecting the virus.

Officials took anal swabs from residents of neighbourhoods with confirmed Covid-19 cases in Beijing last week, broadcaster CCTV said, while those in designated quarantine facilities have also undergone the test.

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

But 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 You’an Hospital, told CCTV.

Users of China’s popular Twitter-like Weibo social media platform reacted to the method with a mix of mirth and horror.

“So lucky I returned to China earlier,” one user wrote.

“Low harm, but extreme humiliation,” another said, using a laughing emoticon.

Others who had undergone the procedure chimed in with dark humour.

“I’ve done two anal swabs, every time I did one I had to do a throat swab afterwards — I was so scared the nurse would forget to use a new swab,” one Weibo user joked.

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 restrictions domestically, with Beijing announcing that people from medium- or high-risk areas will be barred from the city from Thursday to reduce the risk of virus transmission over the Lunar New Year period.

Meanwhile, arrivals into the country must have multiple negative test results and quarantine for at least 14 days in a designated hotel on arrival, with many cities and regions imposing additional home observation requirements. Agence France-Presse

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CabSec: Duterte may reopen in-person classes if 2 million COVID shots given

By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte may only allow the resumption of face-to-face classes when at least 2 million Filipinos have received the Covid-19 vaccine, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Thursday.

During a televised briefing, Nograles said Duterte reiterated during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday that he wanted a “more rigorous” and “more widespread” rollout of vaccine deployment program first before resuming in-person instruction.

“Ang sabi nga niya is that unless he sees about, he gave a figure like 2 million vaccines being rolled out as a start, then that’s when he will start reconsidering about itong pagbubukas, more openly ng ating GCQ (General Community Quarantine) areas to consider again putting it under (Modified) GCG, and dun sa limited face-to-face classes,” the Palace official said.

“Ang napagkasunduan kagabi is that yung limited face-to-face classes will only be pilot classes to be selected very carefully by the Department of Education doon sa mga areas na mababa ang transmission rate ng COVID. So these are pilot limited face-to-face classes,” he shared.

Over 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines donated by the Chinese government arrived in Manila last Sunday. The Philippines will also receive more than 400,000 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the global COVAX facility tonight.

Wowowin sa Senado? Duterte tells Willie Revillame to keep options open

President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Willie Revillame to “keep his options open” in the run-up to the 2022 elections, fueling speculation that the popular television host will seek an elective post.

Philippine Star entertainment editor Ricky Lo wrote in his March 4 column that Duterte called Revillame while he was having dinner with Senator Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at a restaurant in Greenhills, San Juan City on February 27.

Lo quoted Duterte as saying to the host, “Willie, mahal kita. Pinapanood kita. Maraming salamat sa ginagawa mo sa ating mga kababayan. Magkasama tayo sa pagtulong. Kasama tayo sa grupo. Kasama ka namin sa grupo.”

The columnist said it was Go who set the dinner with Revillame to tell him that Duterte was happy with what he’s been doing and to thank him.

Lo said Go was also told to relay Duterte’s message to Revillame, which was: “Tell Willie to keep his options open.”

“Asked what else, what ‘options,’ he and Sen. Bong and Sec. Medialdea discussed during that five-hour dinner, Willie was mum. But his smile was revealing,” the columnist said.

Adequate water supply for NCR this year: CabSec

By Prince Golez

The supply of water for Metro Manila will be “sufficient” this summer, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

On Thursday, Nograles said the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) assured during the Cabinet meeting last night that water shortage won’t be a problem in the National Capital Region (NCR) this year.

“According to the MWSS chair and OIC Administrator Reynaldo Velasco, we expect to have a sufficient supply of water this year in Metro Manila. Wala ho tayong water shortage dito sa Maynila,”

“Be that as it may, the MWSS is taking steps to ensure that we have an adequate supply of water this summer,”

Nograles said the MWSS is also working to fast-track several projects that will address the water requirements of NCR in the long run.

The projects include Kaliwa Dam Project, Upper Kaliwa and Kanan rivers, East Bay Water Supply Project (Phase 1 and 2), and the Calawis-Wawa water supply project (Phase 1 and 2).

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