Video: Dog tests positive for coronavirus and quarantined in Hong Kong ‘sparking fears pooches could spread the killer bug’
THE PET dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has tested positive for the deadly disease.
The owner of the dog, Yvonne Chow Hau Yee, who lives with her beloved Pomeranian, tested her pet pooch after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
The dog has been quarantined by officials, suggesting they have concerns that the pet could pass on the disease.
If confirmed, the Pomeranian would mark the first case of coronavirus in a pet animal, as infected numbers topped 82,000 worldwide.
The pooch was collected from its owner's home on Wednesday, after the woman was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed in a hospital isolation ward.
A department spokesperson confirmed the Pomeranian's "nasal and oral cavity samples were tested weak positive to COVID-19 virus," however did not explain why they tested the animal in the first place.
The spokesperson added: "At present, the AFCD [Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people."
The dog, which is not yet exhibiting any symptoms, has been quarantined in an animal shelter that is holding no other animals, the Hong Kong government said.
It will remain at the shelter for 14 days and undergo repeated tests, as officials try to confirm whether the dog has really been infected with the disease, or if it was a result of environmental contamination of its mouth and nose.
The Pomeranian is believed to be the first case of a pet having coronaviruss
Pet owners have been placing face masks on their pooches as they try and protect them from COVID-19
Owner Hau Yee was said to have developed symptoms a week ago, and was diagnosed with the coronavirus five days later.
Local media reported that she went out to drink tea and attended a wedding while infected.
News of the Pomeranian's "weak positive" result brings more uncertainly over the coronavirus, which is fast spreading around the world after emerging in central China late last year.
While officials state there is no evidence showing animals can be infected with or contaminants of the virus, there have been links between COVID-19 and animals in the past.
But Professor Jonathan Ball, of the University of Nottingham's Molecular Virology unit, said: “There is no evidence that the human novel coronavirus can infect dogs and it would be incredible for a virus to make so many species jumps in such a short space of time."
“We have to differentiate between real infection and just detecting the presence of a virus – these are very different - and the fact that the test result was weakly positive would suggest that this is environmental contamination or simply the presence of coronavirus shed from the human contact that has ended up in the dog’s samples.
British Veterinary Association President Daniella Dos Santos added: "The current advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) remains that the predominant route of transmission is human to human. Further advice from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association is that there is currently no evidence that pets can be infected with Covid-19 and this remains the case at the time of commenting."
"Our advice to vets and pet owners is to follow Public Health England and NHS advice and guidance."
The deadly outbreak was first believed to have originated in a live animal market in Wuhan.
It was then reported the virus could have spread from a Wuhan laboratory that housed 600 bats, which attacked and urinated on scientists.
Officials claim they are yet to determine its origin.
Bats are a possible cause of coronavirus, research suggests
The outbreak was thought to have started at a food market in Wuhan located close to the laboratory
The news comes following claims from animal activists that Chinese officials were rounding up beloved pets and executing them to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Community officers the southwestern Sichuan Province in China reportedly knocked on doors and ordered residents to give up their pets before slaughtering them.
Distressing video shared by Nanchong Missing Animal Aid Group shows a number of bloodied dogs, believed to be dead, lying in the back of the truck.
There have also been reports of panicked pet owners throwing their cats and dogs out of towerblocks amid fear the virus was being passed on by animals.
Chilling pictures emerged from the streets of China showing bloodied corpses of animals lying in the road after being hurled to their death.
Chilling pictures coming out of China are said to show the bloodied corpses of animals lying in the road
It's reported multiple pets were killed following bogus claims they could spread coronavirus