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Pet dog in Hong Kong in quarantine after testing ‘weak positive’ for coronavirus

People wears face masks walk on a down town street in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. COVID-19 viral illness has sickened tens of thousands of people in China since December. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
People wears face masks walk on a down town street in Hong Kong Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. COVID-19 viral illness has sickened tens of thousands of people in China since December. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HONG KONG – A pet dog has been placed in quarantine in Hong Kong after it tested a "weak positive" for the novel coronavirus, authorities said.

The dog was handed over to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) after its owner was infected with the coronavirus, the department said in a statement.

"We're working with authorities in Hong Kong and scientists in Hong Kong who are testing ... the dog ... to understand these results and to understand where or if the dog was actually infected or if the dog picked this up from a contaminated surface, for example," Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, said during a press briefing Friday.

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Preliminary tests from the dog's oral, nasal and rectal samples tested a "weak positive" but the "dog does not have any relevant symptoms," the AFCD said in a statement.

"At present, the AFCD does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people," the statement said.

"The department will conduct close monitoring of the ... dog and collect further samples for testing to confirm if the dog has really been infected with the virus or this is a result of environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose."

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website said there is "no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus."

“To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19,” the website said. “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals including pets can be infected with or spread COVID-19.”