First dog to test positive for coronavirus dies in Hong Kong after returning home from quarantine

THE first dog in the world claimed to have tested positive for coronavirus has died days after leaving quarantine after apparently recovering from the disease.

The 17-year-old Pomeranian, which belonged to a now-recovered patient, had only left mandatory lockdown at a state-run facility in Hong Kong two days earlier.

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A spokesman for the city state’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said: “We learned from the dog’s owner that it had passed away on March 16.

"The owner said she was not willing to (allow) an autopsy to examine the cause of death.”

The animal had repeatedly been tested during its time in quarantine, reports the South China Morning Post.

Government vets used nasal, oral and blood samples to check the sick pooch for the deadly virus.

Blood tests came back negative on March 12 meaning no coronavirus-related antibodies were found in its system.

However, local authorities now admit those results did not necessarily mean the dog wasn’t infected.

“It is known in some asymptomatic or mild cases of human infections with other types of coronavirus that antibodies may not always develop,” the AFCD said.

The dog was claimed to be the first known case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus after a swab tested positive.

Its owner, a 60-year-old woman called Yvonne Chow Hau Yee, was hospitalised on February 25 before recovering and returning home.

It has since been revealed some of her family and friends have also been infected.

Hong Kong officials reported Yee passed along “low levels” of the virus to her pet – news which sparked panic in parts of hard-hit China.

But some experts said the dog's nasal cavities could have carried traces of the disease from its owner and it did not mean it was present in its blood.

Scientists still doubt whether dogs can host the virus.

So far, four pets – a cat and three dogs – have been placed at the quarantine centre in Hong Kong.

Apart from the Pomeranian, the other three animals – an exotic shorthair cat, a Shiba Inu and a mongrel – all tested negative for the deadly virus.

First reports of the dog's infection came amid claims that Chinese officials were rounding up pets and executing them to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Community officers the southwestern Sichuan Province in China reportedly knocked on doors and ordered residents to give up their pets before slaughtering them.

Distressing video shared by Nanchong Missing Animal Aid Group shows a number of bloodied dogs, believed to be dead, lying in the back of the truck.

There have also been reports of panicked pet owners throwing their cats and dogs out of towerblocks amid fear the virus was being passed on by animals.

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