Could your pet give you coronavirus? Experts have concluded that the answer is a resounding, "Almost 100% no."
Last Friday, it was confirmed by Hong Kong's AFCD department that samples from a dog's nasal and oral cavities had tested "weak positive" for the coronavirus; it was the first dog anywhere in the world which had tested positive for the virus. The dog, which was exhibiting zero symptoms, has been put in quarantine.
The department "strongly advises" that no evidence indicates that pets of those infected with the coronavirus remain quarantined for 14 days. The dog will be tested over and over again until the result comes back negative. However, there is zero evidence that cats or dogs can be infected with the virus.
Even though dogs can test positive, they haven't actually contracted the virus. Viruses can live on surfaces and objects, meaning that while dogs can technically be "contaminated" with the virus, they haven't been infected.
"Present evidence suggests that dogs are no more of a risk of spreading (coronavirus) than inanimate objects such as door handles," wrote Sheila McClelland, the founder of Lifelong Animal Protection Charity in Hong Kong.
Quarantining pets is valuable from a scientific perspective, but it's "purely a precautionary measure," according to Jane Gray, the Hong Kong SPCA's chief veterinary surgeon. She recommends pet owners stick to good hygiene, i.e. washing their hands with soap and water after touching pets. Gray said that if dog owners are deeply concerned, they can wipe down their pooch's paws with antiseptic wipes after walking outside, but don't overdo it.