Hong Kong officials say pets can test positive for coronavirus, but cannot pass it on

Hong Kong officials say pets can test positive for coronavirus, but cannot pass it on
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Officials in Hong Kong have concluded that while pets can test positive for the coronavirus, they cannot pass it onto humans.

The city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said a dog in quarantine tested "weak positive" for the virus after testing samples on Feb. 27, Feb. 28 and March 2, The Associated Press reported.

“There is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of COVID-19 or that they become sick,” an official said.

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Local officials previously said that the dog's positive test could be the result of "environmental contamination," with swabs from its nasal and oral cavities testing weak positive, meaning low traces of the virus were found. 

Officials said this week that they will release the dog as well as another in quarantine that tested negative after testing each one final time. The department recommended quarantining any pets in households where a human has tested positive for the virus.

“Apart from maintaining good hygiene practices, pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets,” a department spokesperson added.

The department recommended washing hands before and after contact with pets or their food or supplies and for sick people to avoid contact with pets and seek a veterinarian’s advice if a pet appears sick.

Hong Kong has thus far seen fewer than 100 coronavirus cases despite being adjacent to China’s Guangdong Province, which has seen the second-highest number of cases after Hubei, which is believed to be where the outbreak originated.