Coronavirus: Dog tests positive for illness

Kate Ng
A Chinese woman holds her dog that is wearing a protective mask as well as they stand in the street in Beijing, China: Getty Images

A dog in Hong Kong whose owner was infected with coronavirus has tested “weak positive” for the virus, said the government on Friday.

In a release, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said the dog was referred to them by the Department of Health on 26 February.

After collecting oral, nasal and rectal samples, the AFCD found the dog tested positive for the virus – but did not have any symptoms.

“The Department will conduct close monitoring of the above dog and collect further samples for testing to confirm if the dog has really been infected with the virus, or this is a result of environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose,” an AFCD spokesperson said in the statement.

The spokesperson added that it did not yet have evidence that “pet animals” could be infected with Covid-19 virus, or could pass it on to humans.

“The above dog is the only dog under quarantine at the animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge at the moment,” the statement continued.

If the dog is indeed infected, it would be the first case of a pet catching the virus from humans.

The department advised coronavirus patients with pets to contact the AFCD to put their animal companions under quarantine.

Pets of infected patients would be delivered to designated facilities to be kept under veterinary surveillance for 14 days.

Since the outbreak began, some pet owners have taken precautions to protect their animals amid fears they could catch the virus, fashioning makeshift masks for dogs and cats.

There is no evidence humans could become infected with coronavirus by their pets, said the World Health Organisation.

Globally, there are over 83,000 confirmed cases of the virus in 57 countries. 2,800 people have died after being infected by the virus, which is highly contagious.

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