According to a local media report, the first known dog that tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a 17-year-old Pomeranian, has died in Hong Kong.
The dog passed away on Monday after returning home, following a government quarantine and a negative test, according to the South China Morning Post. The dog belongs to a 60-year-old woman who recovered from the novel coronavirus. Fox News reported that the dog had previously tested “weakly positive” for the virus.
A spokesman for the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) told the South China Morning Post they heard the news of the dog’s passing on March 16. “The owner said she was not willing to [allow] an autopsy to examine the cause of death,” the spokesman added.
The South China Morning Post also mentioned that the dog was repeatedly tested for the virus via nasal, oral, and blood samples before returning home. On March 12, the blood test was negative, but there is a possibility that the results did not mean the dog was not infected, even if no antibodies not found in the pet’s system.
“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 added in its interview with the South China Morning Post.
The dog’s infection was discovered in February and believed to be the first known case of human-to-animal transmission of the virus.
Before the death, the ACFD said that it did not “have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people.”
As of right now, there have been more than 201,000 reported cases of COVID-19, including 6,500 in the United States.