Pet cats and dogs in South Korea’s capital city Seoul will be tested for COVID-19 if they display symptoms. This announcement was made by the Seoul metropolitan government a few weeks after the country reported its first animal coronavirus case when a kitten began displaying symptoms.
According to Yonhap News, the COVID-19-positive kitten was found at a religious facility in the city of Jinju in January. Health authorities suspect that an infected mother and her daughter had spread the virus to the kitten while staying at the facility.
Only pets showing symptoms like fever or breathing difficulties after being exposed to human carriers of the virus are eligible for testing. Positive pets will also have to quarantine at home.
It is not necessary for the pet to be sent into an isolation facility as there is no evidence as of yet that shows COVID-19 can be spread between humans and pet – but if the pet’s owners are hospitalised with the virus or are too ill or too old to take care of it, the pet will be taken into quarantine at a city-run facility.
In South Korea, human patients with COVID-19 are cared for in quarantine facilities if they do not require hospital treatment.
While evidence shows it is highly unlikely that a cat or dog will spread the virus to a human, they can pass it onto other pets.
In January, two gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park also tested positive for COVID-19 after being infected by a human handler, and this was the first known infection in an ape species. Other animals that have also tested positive for the virus include lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo in New York and lions at the Barcelona Zoo in Spain.
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