In a statement by the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), a spokesperson confirmed that a pet dog tested “weak positive” for the novel coronavirus, which means low traces of the virus were found in the dog’s body.
On February 26, AFCD staff “picked up the dog from a residential flat at Tai Hang in the evening on the same day and sent the dog to the animal keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge,” the February 28 news release states.
Employees at the animal keeping facility also took oral, nasal and rectal samples from the dog to test for the COVID-19 virus. The same result was also obtained in a second round of tests. However, the dog has not displayed any coronavirus symptoms.
The dog is currently under quarantine at the animal keeping facility. No other animals are being kept at the facility, the release added. Currently, the AFCD does not have any evidence that “pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people.”
The department is planning on monitoring the dog and collecting additional samples to determine whether the animal has been infected with the virus or if the positive test was caused by “environmental contamination of the dog’s mouth and nose.”
“Repeated tests will be conducted for the dog and it will only be returned [to its owner] when the test result is negative,” the news release states.
The department also confirmed that any mammalian pets of patients that are infected with the virus be placed under quarantine by the AFCD.
“The pets will be delivered to the designated animal keeping facilities of the AFCD for quarantine and veterinary surveillance for 14 days. Samples will be collected for testing of COVID-19 virus as appropriate,” the release states.
In addition, the department has urged pet owners to wash their hands “thoroughly” with soap or alcohol sanitizer after touching pets and to wear masks when going out in public.
“If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from veterinarians should be sought as soon as possible,” the news release adds.
So far, almost 84,000 people have been infected with the virus, and almost 3,000 people have died as a result, the latest data by the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering shows.
According to the South China Morning Post, a cat that belongs to a 25-year-old coronavirus patient has also been sent to the AFCD for testing, although the results came back negative. The cat has since been discharged. In addition, a Shiba Inu dog that belongs to a 68-year-old woman who contracted the virus has also tested negative for the virus but is still being quarantined.