Pet cats and dogs in South Korea’s capital city will now be tested for COVID-19.
The Seoul metropolitan government recently announced the news, stating that if a pet begins to show symptoms of the virus, it should be tested.
The new tests come after a kitten in the country tested positive for the virus a few weeks ago – however, it’s thought pets contracting the virus is generally quite rare.
If a pet tests positive, it must quarantine for a period of time but does not need to go to an isolation facility, as there’s currently no evidence that the virus can be passed between animals and humans.
However, Park Yoo-mi, a disease control official at a virtual press briefing, stated that if an owner becomes too sick to take care of their pet, it will be taken into quarantine at a city-run facility.
If human patients in South Korea test positive for the virus, they’re generally placed in quarantine facilities if they don’t need hospital treatment, reported BBC News.
While it’s believed to be unlikely that animals can pass on the virus to humans, it appears that humans can pass it on to animals.
The infected kitten, which was discovered at a religious facility in southeastern city of Jinju, is thought to have contracted it after a mother and daughter with the virus also stayed at the facility.
There have also been reports of animals in captivity having contracted the virus from their human handlers.
Back in December, four lions at Barcelona’s zoo tested positive for the virus after possibly coming into contact with an asymptomatic member of staff. Three snow leopards at another zoo had also contracted the virus.
While there have been a handful of examples of COVID being spread to animals by humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that the risk of animals spreading it to humans is still considered low.
As per its website, the CDC says, ‘Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.’
It advises that people should treat their pets as the would do any other family member and that they should not let pets interact with other people in the outside world.
The CDC also states that if anyone in your household becomes sick, pets should be isolated from other people as well as other people you live with.
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