The 17-year-old Hong Kong Pomeranian widely believed to the first-ever case of human-to-animal transmission of COVID-19 died yesterday, just days after finally testing negative for the illness and being released from quarantine.
The dog, which belonged to a Tai Hang woman who had also contracted the illness, made headlines late last month when it first tested “weak positive” for the novel coronavirus. Questions as to the whether the result was merely the result of environmental contamination were seemingly put to rest by subsequent tests, all of which came back positive.
Finally, after twice testing negative for the disease, the pooch was released from quarantine on Saturday and returned to its owner, who by then had recovered from COVID-19, RTHK reports.
However, the woman informed authorities two days later that the animal had died, and did not consent to an autopsy to determine its cause of death. On average, Pomeranians tend to live between nine and 16 years.
During its stay in quarantine, the dog reportedly did not exhibit symptoms, and a blood test for the disease did not detect any antibodies specific to COVID-19. Experts, however, noted that such a result is not uncommon in mild or asymptomatic cases of the disease.
Authorities, meanwhile, have maintained that pets are not likely to become a source of infection, though pet owners should nonetheless practice good hygiene.
According to the SCMP, at least three other animals have been brought in for coronavirus testing: a Shiba Inu, a mutt, and an exotic shorthair cat. All three tested negative.