Dog of Hong Kong Covid-19 patient tests 'weak positive' for coronavirus

A dog wears a home made cover over its snout, which its owner said was as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as he stands on a sidewalk in Beijing on Feb 25, 2020.
AFP

The pet dog of a Hong Kong Covid-19 patient has tested "weak positive" for the new coronavirus, the government announced on Friday.

The city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement the dog had not shown any symptoms and there was no evidence to suggest that pets could contract the coronavirus or be a source of infection in people.

It said more tests would be conducted to confirm if the dog had really been infected with the virus or if this was a result of environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose.

Oral, nasal and rectal samples were collected for testing.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.

"However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets," it said on its website.

Hong Kong's agriculture department said it was alerted to take care of the dog of an infected patient who lives in Tai Hang on Wednesday and that the pet was immediately sent to the dog-keeping facilities at the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.

It added repeated tests would be performed on the dog, and it would only be returned to its owner once the tests had come back negative.

The dog is believed to belong to a Jockey Club member who has been infected with Covid-19. Her domestic helper is also infected. The pair were among the 93 cases that have been reported in Hong Kong so far.

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A spokesman for the department said in the statement that infected patients were strongly advised to put their mammalian pets under its quarantine to ensure public and animal health.

He said under quarantine the pets would be delivered to designated animal-keeping facilities for veterinary surveillance for 14 days. Samples will be collected for testing of the Covid-19 virus as appropriate.

The spokesman reminded pet owners to maintain their pets' hygiene and to wash their hands thoroughly with soap or alcohol sanitiser after contact with their pets. Pet owners should wear masks while going out, he said.

He added if there were any changes in a pet's condition, advice from veterinarians should be sought as soon as possible.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.