Dog ‘tests positive’ for coronavirus
A PET DOG belonging to a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has tested "weak positive" for COVID-19, the city's government announced on Friday.
The positive test result, however, could be a result of contact with the owner's bodily fluids on the dog's mouth and nose, and does not necessarily mean the dog itself has contracted the disease.
A spokesman for Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department told local media it had received a referral from the Health Department on Wednesday to take care of a dog belonging to one of the city's 93 infected patients.
Department staff picked the dog up that evening from a residential flat at Tai Hang and took it to an animal holding facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, where oral, nasal and rectal samples were collected for testing the virus.
The statement stressed that the dog had not shown any symptoms and there was no evidence so far that pets could either contract coronavirus or pass it on to people, the South China Morning Post reported.
The dog is believed to belong to a Hong Kong Jockey Club member who has been infected with COVID-19, according to the newspaper. The woman's domestic helper is also infected.
Authorities said they will closely monitor the dog and collect further samples for testing to confirm whether it had been infected, or whether it was a result of environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose.
The dog will only be returned to its owner when the test results come back negative. It is currently the only animal under quarantine at the facility, which will be subject to increased cleansing and disinfection procedures.
The spokesman said infected patients were strongly advised to put their pets under their quarantine. He reminded pet owners to maintain good hygiene and wash their hands thoroughly or use alcohol sanitiser after touching pets.
The news is likely to fuel fears about pets passing on the deadly virus, which has infected more than 82,000 people and killed more than 7800 since emerging in China in December, and is nearing global pandemic status.
Earlier this month, Chinese media reported pet dogs and cats were being thrown from apartment blocks after a rumour that the animals spread the coronavirus.
In Australia, one Sydney vet said there had been a spike in pet owners questioning whether the virus can be transmitted from their animals, with some asking if they should euthanise their pets.
The World Small Animal Veterinary Association earlier this month said it was highly unlikely owners could contract coronavirus from their dog or cat, or that their companion animal could transmit the virus to people or other animals.
"Currently there is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals can be infected with this new coronavirus," the WSAVA's official guidance says.
"Additionally, there is currently no evidence that pets or other domestic animals might be a source of infection to people with the new coronavirus. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available."