Canine positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong, an isolated case – WHO

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization (WHO) clarified that there is no strong evidence to prove the alleged transmission of novel coronavirus from humans to domestic animals.

The WHO is referring to a report in Hong Kong where a pet dog tested “weak positive” for novel coronavirus.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said such report is an isolated case.  

“This is one dog which is reported to have been tested positive. We know that coronaviruses infect dogs. In fact, coronavirus infection in dogs result in dogs getting acute diarrhea. We have no evidence to date of COVID- 19 infecting domestic animals,” he said.

WHO also stressed that there had been no record of human illnesses transmitted to animals in as far as experts’ studies were concerned.

Nonetheless, the WHO recommends animal health experts to consider conducting a study on the possibility of human to animal transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We are working with our partners in the animal health industry, animal health sector for us to better understand this and once we have better information, we will be ready to share that,” Dr. Abeyasinghe said.

“At this point of time we don’t have better information than this single report,” he added.

For its part, the Philippines’ Interagency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease is also looking into the matter.

“Wala pang enough evidence or hard facts para patunayan na totoo iyan or hindi (There is no enough evidence or hard facts to prove that) so we are playing it by ear,” explained Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Kapag lumabas ang isang rekomendasyon galing sa ating mga eksperto and then titignan natin kung ano ang dapat nating gawin. (But once a recommendation from our experts is released, then we will consider measures on how to address it). But yes, it is part of the radar of what we are trying to study right now,” she concluded. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

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