The first dog in the world to catch coronavirus has died in Hong Kong after it was declared disease-free and returned home to its owner.
The 17-year-old Pomeranian, whose owner contracted COVID-19 last month, had been quarantined at a government facility but returned home over the weekend.
A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) told the South China Morning Post: ‘The department learned from the dog’s owner that it had passed away on March 16. The owner said she was not willing to [allow] an autopsy to examine the cause of death.’
The canine had tested ‘weak positive’ in five nasal and oral analyses last month. However, in two tests taken on March 12 and 13 the pet tested negative and had been allowed to return home.
The dog’s owner has been named locally as 60-year-old businesswoman Yvonne Chow Hau Yee. She was infected at the end of February and hospitalised. She recovered and returned home on March 8.
The AFCD previously stated that the genetic make-up of the virus found in Ms Chow Hau Yee and the dog was highly similar.
‘The [gene] sequence results indicate that the virus likely spread from the infected persons and subsequently infected the dog,’ the department said in a statement.
The World Health Organization said previously that the dog is the only known canine to have contracted the killer disease.