Coronavirus dog dies two days after release - RTHK
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Coronavirus dog dies two days after release

2020-03-18 HKT 00:38
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  • Officials say the dog never developed any symptoms despite repeatedly testing positive for the virus. But its owner said it died two days after being released from quarantine. Photo: RTHK
    Officials say the dog never developed any symptoms despite repeatedly testing positive for the virus. But its owner said it died two days after being released from quarantine. Photo: RTHK
The government says a pet dog that officials believe had caught Covid-19 from its infected owner died on Monday, two days after it was released from quarantine.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the Pomeranian had never actually developed any symptoms of the disease, despite repeatedly testing a “weak positive” for the coronavirus since late February.

The animal was released on Saturday after finally testing negative for the virus, but the AFCD said the owner told officials that it died on Monday. It added that she did not consent for a necropsy to be done to ascertain the cause of death.

Officials had initially suspected that the animal wasn’t actually infected, but had just been contaminated with the bug through environmental contamination.

But the repeated positive tests prompted officials to team up with experts from the University of Hong Kong to conduct gene-sequencing of the virus from the animal. The results showed that its genetic code was extremely similar to ones from the people who had close contact with the dog.

The AFCD had said in a statement last week that the results “indicate that the virus likely spread from the infected persons and subsequently infected the dog.”

It had added that a negative test for antibodies to Covid-19 doesn’t necessarily mean the dog wasn’t infected, noting that this happens in many human cases as well.

However, the department has repeatedly stressed that while the dog was likely infected by the owner, there is no evidence that it could in turn transmit the virus to other humans, or that the virus can actually make them sick.

The World Health Organisation had previously said there was no evidence that pets like dogs and cats can be infected with the new coronavirus, only to change its position earlier this month in the wake of this unprecedented case.