A dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The Hong Kong authorities said on Friday they quarantined the dog after its nasal and oral samples tested "weak positive" for the virus.
It was not immediately clear 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.
In a statement issued by Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department., the canine has been quarantined at animal keeping facility at Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. as a precaution but has no "relevant symptoms".
Only pet under quarantine
At the moment, officials said it's the only dog under quarantine at the animal-keeping facility. The department said it does not have evidence that pets can be infected with the virus or can be a source of infection to people.
In the statement, it informed that AFCD received word about the dog from the Department of Health on Feb. 26 and picked it up from a residential flat that evening and sent the canine to animal keeping facility. The dog will only be returned when the test result is negative, it added.
The department has strongly advised that all mammalian pets of coronavirus patients should be put under quarantine and veterinary surveillance for 14 days.
The agency suggested that if there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from veterinarians should be sought as soon as possible. The Hong Kong quarantine is the first reported case anywhere in the world of a government restricting pets over the outbreak.
Maria Van Kerkhove, Technical Lead at the World Health Organization Emergencies Programme, said Friday that the WHO is aware that the dog tested positive and that the organization is anticipating further testing.
The WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have previously said there is no evidence that pets may be a source of infection for the coronavirus.
However, both organizations recommend washing your hands after being around animals and avoiding contact with pets while you are sick with COVID-19.