COVID-19 testing for pets launches in South Korea

A few weeks after South Korea reported its first COVID-19 case in a pet, the country has announced it will test cats and dogs for the virus if they show symptoms, according to the BBC

The move comes in the wake of a kitten testing positive at a religious facility, says a report in Yonhap News.

According to a Yonhap report, there is no evidence COVID-19 can be spread between humans and pets, said Park Yoo-mi, a disease control official at a virtual press briefing.

The kitten’s illness was discovered during tracking arising from a mass outbreak. “Health authorities found that a pet has tested positive for COVID-19 in the first such case, “ Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said in a government response meeting held at the Seoul government complex Sunday, said Yonhap News.

Only pets exposed to human carriers of the virus and show symptoms like fever and difficulty breathing will be tested, says the BBC.

If the pet tests positive, it will quarantine at home since there is no danger of the pet giving it to its owner, says the BBC story. But if the owner is hospitalized, too ill, or too old to care for it, the pet will move to a quarantine facility.

Pet owners are reminded to keep their pets two meters away from people and other pets when walking them, says the BBC report.

While rare, globally, several pets have tested positive for the virus, and two gorillas in the San Diego Zoo caught it from a handler. Lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo and lions at the Barcelona Zoo have also contracted it.