A Hong Kong coronavirus patient’s dog has tested “weak positive” for the strain on Friday, but there is no evidence to suggest the pet has been infected with the COVID-19 disease, according to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD).
A low level of the SARS-like virus was detected in the dog’s nasal and oral cavity samples, but they showed no symptoms of the disease. The AFCD said more samples need to be collected and tested before they can confirm whether the dog has been infected, as previous samples could have been subject to environmental contamination.
“At present, the AFCD does not have evidence to show that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or are a source of infection to people,” an AFCD spokesperson said.
AFCD staff transferred the dog from a flat in Tai Hang to an animal keeping facility ay the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, where it has been quarantined since Wednesday. It will remain in isolation until further tests come back as negative for the virus, the spokesperson said.
A 60-year-old woman, who became the 85th coronavirus patient in Hong Kong, was the only infected person with a residence in Tai Hang, according to the Centre for Health Protection. Her domestic worker – a 29-year-old woman – was later confirmed to have been infected.
First detected in Hubei, China, COVID-19 has infected more than 83,000 people and led to over 2,800 deaths globally. They were 93 confirmed cases in Hong Kong as of Friday morning.
The AFCD said the dog was the only animal staying in its facility at the moment, and staff members will boost cleaning and disinfection of the site.
The spokesperson said they strongly advise infected people to hand over their pets so they can be placed under a 14-day quarantine with veterinary surveillance at a designated animal keeping centre, managed by the AFCD.
They also reminded pet owners to wear masks when outside, and maintain good hygiene by cleaning their hands with soap or alcohol sanitiser after coming into contact with pets.