The Hong Kong pet dog that was tested for coronavirus has died two days after it was released from quarantine.
The dog belongs to Hong Kong’s 85th Covid-19 patient, identified by the South China Morning Post as a 17-year-old Pomeranian died on Monday, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in an email, citing the animal’s owner.
The department said the cause of death couldn’t be determined after the owner, who recently recovered from a coronavirus infection, declined to conduct an autopsy.
Hong Kong’s animal welfare authority revealed that the genetic make-up of the virus found in the dog and its human contacts were very similar. Thus, government’s experts would continue to classify the dog as having a low-level infection, despite the blood test result.
While the dog initially tested “weak positive” for the virus, it showed no symptoms and was released from quarantine on Saturday after further tests produced negative results.
The case had been closely followed by people worried that their pets may be vulnerable to the disease or become potential spreaders too.
The World Organisation for Animal Health has cautioned that there is no evidence of pets transmitting the virus to humans: “However, because animals and people can sometimes share diseases … it is still recommended that people who are sick with Covid-19 limit contact with companion and other animals until more information is known about the virus.”