Authorities in a city in the north of China have killed three house cats that tested positive for COVID-19, according to a local media report.
Authorities in the Chinese city of Harbin said that they killed the cats as there was no available treatment for animals who contract the virus and that they would have put their owners and other surrounding residents in danger of being infected, according to Beijing News online.
On September 21, the owner tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently went into isolation after leaving food and water out for the three cats. A health worker then administered coronavirus tests to the cats.
The tests came back positive twice.
The owner, identified as Miss Liu, published an online appeal to save the cats’ lives but they were put to sleep on Tuesday evening.
Since the news came out, the case drew over 52,000 comments.
Humans transmit COVID-19 to animals
People can transmit COVID-19 to animals in situations where there is close contact but the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is “considered to be low,” according to the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 has been reported on mink farms in several countries, including cases in which it was suggested humans might have been infected by the animals, prompting mass culls of minks.
“People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals, including pets, livestock, and wildlife,” CDC said on its website.
“At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role” in spreading the virus to people, it said.
“Some coronaviruses that infect animals can be spread to people and then spread between people, but this is rare. This is what happened with SARS-CoV-2, which likely originated in bats,” the CDC said.
The theory that the virus was passed from bats to humans, possibly through an intermediary species such as a pangolin or bamboo rat, has been strongly favored by scientists studying the origins of COVID-19, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
The killing of the cats is an example of the sometimes-extreme measures China has taken to control the virus, even when infection rates remain far below those in other countries.
Lockdowns, mask wearing, mass testing and high vaccination rates have been credited for suppressing new infections.
On Wednesday, mainland China reported just 11 new locally transmitted cases, eight of them in Harbin and three in the eastern city of Xiamen, both of which have had recent outbreaks.
China currently has 949 patients being treated for COVID-19. It has reported 4,636 deaths from the illness among a total of 96,106 reported cases.
With The Associated Press