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SubscriptionSEOUL — Months-long lockdowns. Entire city populations herded through the streets for mandatory testing. The people of China could be forgiven for thinking they had seen it all during the coronavirus pandemic.

But now they face a new indignity: the addition of anal swabs — yes, you read that right — to the testing regimen for those in quarantine.

Chinese state media outlets introduced the new protocol in recent days, prompting widespread discussion and some outrage. Some Chinese doctors say the science is there. Recovering patients, they say, have continued to test positive through samples from the lower digestive tract days after nasal and throat swabs came back negative.

Yet for many, it seemed a step too far in government intrusions after a year and counting of a dignity-eroding pandemic.

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