A report has revealed that the Chinese government used anal swabs to test U.S. diplomats for COVID-19, the New York Post reports.
Beijing says that the anal tests were made in error.
"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 spokesperson from the State Department told VICE.
U.S. officials protested that the procedure was invasive and undignified, the Post reported.
A spokesperson from the Chinese government claimed that the conducting of the tests was "in error" an that the diplomats were exempt from the test, which is otherwise mandatory.
"We have instructed staff to decline this test if it is asked of them, as was done in the past,” the Chinese state spokesperson told VICE.
The spokesperson added that it was unclear how many diplomats or their family members underwent the procedure.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reportedly denied Thursday that any Americans were asked to take the test.
"To my knowledge…China has never required US diplomatic staff stationed in China to conduct anal swab tests," Zhao said at a Beijing press briefing.
A State Department spokesperson told Reuters that it was "committed to guaranteeing the safety and security of American diplomats and their families, while preserving their dignity."
The Chinese government has been using anal swab COVID-19 tests to test people who are considered to have a higher risk of contracting the virus. The anal variant of the test is considered to be more precise, picking up traces of the virus in fecal matter that may otherwise be missed in the nasal or oral cavity, according to China’s National Health Commission.