World News

Dog who was declared coronavirus-free dies in Hong Kong

March 18, 2020 04:35 PM

HONG KONG:World's first animal -- a Pomeranian dog who was declared coronavirus free after being quarantined at a government facility and sent home after testing negative -- has died although it is not clear whether COVID-19 killed the animal.

The 17-year-old Pomeranian, which belonged to a Covid-19 patient, had been under mandatory quarantine since February 26, and returned home virus-free last week.

According to a report on South China Morning Post on Wednesday, the dog is now dead and the owner is not willing to allow an autopsy to determine cause of death as per Hong Kong's animal welfare authority.

"The department learned from the dog's owner that it had passed away on March 16. The owner said she was not willing to [allow] an autopsy to examine the cause of death," a spokesperson for the city's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) was quoted as saying.

The pet dog went through five tests and all returned "weak positive" for the new coronavirus.

The last two tests - carried out on March 12 and 13 - "proved the dog's samples were negative that the department allowed it to leave the centre and return home".

So far, four pets - a cat and three dogs - have been placed at the animal keeping facility in Hong Kong.

Apart from the Pomeranian, the other three animals - an exotic shorthair cat, a Shiba Inu and a mongrel - were also tested negative for the deadly virus," said the report.

The owner of the Pomerarian, a 60-year-old woman, was also tested corona positive and hospitalised on February 25. She recovered and returned home on March 8.

"The [gene] sequence results indicate that the virus likely spread from the infected persons and subsequently infected the dog," the department said in a statement.

Ten new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Hong Kong on Tuesday, marking the city's largest daily increase and taking its total to 167. At least eight of those had travel history.

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