Health authorities in Hong Kong have confirmed that a pet dog belonging to a coronavirus affected patient had contracted the virus. Experts called it a "low-level infection" that was likely to be the first reported case of human-to-animal transmission of the disease.
The Pomeranian, which repeatedly tested "weak positive" since last Friday - picked up the virus through surface contamination, including nose and mouth.
The dog has now been quarantined with the local Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for further testing, South China Morning Post reported.
In its statement later, 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."
"It is positive to tests and has been infected, so it is now quarantined in a centre by the department. Further tests will be conducted and it will not be released until the tests return negative results," was all health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee said during a regular press briefing on the coronavirus crisis in the city.
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.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the largest independent animal welfare charity group in the city, also stressed that being infected was not the equivalent of being infectious or capable of spreading Covid-19.
The SPCA reminded animal lovers to maintain stringent personal hygiene and limit contact with their pets if they were suspected to have contracted the virus.The government said a second dog was also under quarantine, along with the Pomeranian, but it had tested negative for the coronavirus.
The owner of the Pomeranian is a 60-year-old woman who was confirmed to be infected and hospitalised on February 25.
Hong Kong reached a total of 100 coronavirus cases on Monday after infections were confirmed in two people, a woman who had been on the virus-struck Diamond Princess cruise ship and the brother of another Covid-19 patient. -- ANI