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Pet dog belonging to Covid-19 patient infected, Hong Kong health authorities confirm

HONG KONG — Hong Kong health authorities confirmed on Wednesday (March 4) that a pet dog belonging to a Covid-19 patient had contracted the coronavirus, with experts calling it the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

Pet dog belonging to Covid-19 patient infected, Hong Kong health authorities confirm

The pet dog will remain under quarantine for further testing.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong health authorities confirmed on Wednesday (March 4) that a pet dog belonging to a Covid-19 patient had contracted the coronavirus, with experts calling it the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

The Pomeranian, which repeatedly tested "weak positive" since last Friday — suggesting it was surface contamination, with the dog picking up traces of the virus in its nose and mouth rather than being actually infected — will now remain under quarantine with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for further testing.

"It is positive to tests and has been infected, so it is now quarantined in a centre by the department," health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said during a regular press briefing.

"Further tests will be conducted and it will not be released until the tests return negative results."

The department said experts from the University of Hong Kong, City University and the World Organisation for Animal Health had been consulted, and all "unanimously agreed that these results suggest that the dog has a low level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission".

A spokesman stressed there was still no evidence that pet animals could be a source of infection of Covid-19 or that they could fall sick. He added that apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.

"These test results suggest that the dog has a low-level of infection, which was also found in several pets in the Sars outbreak in 2003," animal health expert Vanessa Barrs from City University said.

"Previous experience with Sars suggests that cats and dogs will not become sick or transmit the virus to humans. At that time, a small number of pets tested positive but none became sick. Importantly, there was no evidence of viral transmission from pet dogs or cats to humans."

Professor Barrs said the weak-positive test result for the Pomeranian indicated it had been exposed to the virus, which was not surprising because the owner was infected.

All available evidence showed that cases of Covid-19 were the result of human-to-human transmission, she said. SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

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Dog pets animal Covid-19 coronavirus Wuhan virus Hong Kong

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