Image from AFP

A pet dog belonging to a COVID-19 patient in Hong Kong was confirmed to have contracted the virus, health authorities said on Wednesday (4 Mar).

The canine – a pomeranian – had repeatedly tested “weak positive” since last Friday (28 Feb), when it was quarantined at an animal centre.

Based on the test results, the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) suggested that the dog has a “low-level of infection”.

The dog has not shown any symptoms of the coronavirus, said AFCD in a statement on Friday.

Meanwhile, experts from universities and the World Organisation for Animal Health deemed this event to likely be the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission.

But according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs or cats can contract COVID-19.

“However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets,” said WHO on its website.

Since last Friday, all pets belonging to Hong Kong citizens that are infected with the coronavirus will be quarantined for 14 days. Two dogs are already in isolation.

CNA reported that the other dog in quarantine belongs to a second coronavirus patient. It was tested negative for the virus once. It will be tested again prior to its release.

Earlier today (5 March), China has reported 31 more deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic, taking the country’s overall toll past 3,000, with the number of new infections slightly increasing.

At least 3,012 people have now died nationwide in the outbreak that first emerged in the central city of Wuhan in December.

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