In late January, a kitten in the southeastern city of Jinju became the first pet in the country to have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
"As South Korea has registered a coronavirus infection in a pet, starting today [on Monday], the Seoul government will check pets, dogs and cats specifically, for being infected with COVID-19," disease control official Park Yoo-mi said at a briefing.
Animals that either have not been in contact or have not demonstrated symptoms afterward will not be tested. Among the listed symptoms are fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, increased mucus discharge from nose and eyes, nausea and diarrhea.
As owners of pets with such symptoms are likely to be in quarantine, special teams will be dispatched to their houses to collect samples for analysis. If results come back positive, a pet will be quarantined at home for 14 days as there is no information yet confirming pet to human transmission. Nevertheless, special quarantine facilities will admit such pets if their owners are senior citizens, or with chronic diseases or there is no one to take care of a pet.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the virus has been detected among various species of animals, such as cats, dogs and mink. The spread among the latter one forced several countries to cull their entire mink populations.