Hong Kong finds coronavirus in pet dog samples

Hong Kong finds coronavirus in pet dog samples

(Agence France-Presse) - February 29, 2020 - 12:00am

HONG KONG – A pet dog was quarantined at an animal center in Hong Kong after it tested positive for low levels of the new coronavirus, officials said yesterday, in the first such case in the city.

The canine, which belongs to a 60-year-old woman infected with the virus, has no “relevant symptoms,” the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said.

But “nasal and oral cavity samples were tested weak positive to COVID-19 virus,” a spokesman said, without explaining why they tested the animal in the first place.

“At present, the AFCD does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected... or can be a source of infection to people,” it said in a statement.

The dog was collected from the owner’s home on Wednesday, after the woman was diagnosed with the contagion and placed in a hospital isolation ward.

It would be closely monitored and undergo further tests to confirm if it really has the virus or if “this is a result of environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose,” the department said.

The canine would be held until it returned a negative result.

While there is no evidence domestic animals such as dogs and cats can catch the virus or transmit it to humans, the department said pets of infected people should be quarantined for 14 days.

The World Health Organization website says so far there has been no evidence that companion pets can be infected with the coronavirus.

The financial hub has confirmed 93 cases of the new coronavirus, with two deaths earlier this month.

The epidemic, which emerged in central China in December, has infected more than 83,000 people globally.

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