As humans throughout the world grapple with the widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a pet dog has been found to have a "low level" of the virus, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong's agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said in a statement Friday. Dogs, cats and other mammals owned as pets by confirmed coronavirus patients must now undergo a 14-day quarantine, the spokesperson added.
The department said the dog, whose owner was infected with coronavirus, tested "weak positive" for COVID-19 virus after its nasal and rectal samples were collected for testing earlier this week.
"The nasal and oral cavity samples were tested weak positive to COVID-19 virus," the department's statement read. "The dog does not have any relevant symptoms."
Despite the preliminary test result on the animal, there is no evidence to suggest pets could be infected or be a source of infection for humans, according to the statement. The department will undergo further testing on the dog to see if it's really been infected with the virus or a result of "environmental contamination" of its mouth and nose.
At the moment, officials said it's the only dog under quarantine at the animal-keeping facility at Hong Kong Port of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
CBS News' Grace Qi reports veterinarians in Hong Kong are also calling for calm after the "weak positive" case was announced. Experts said it's very unlikely that pets such as dogs and cats could be infected with the coronavirus, as very few viruses can jump between species.
The global death toll for people with the virus was over 2,800 and more than 83,000 cases of the COVID-19 disease have now been confirmed in more than 50 countries.