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Eight lions at an Indian zoo test positive for COVID-19

Eight Asiatic lions at an Indian Zoo have tested positive for COVID-19. Lions at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park tested positive – the first such case in India where an animal has contracted the disease.

There are a total of 12 lions in the Hyderabad Zoological Park, eight of which have been found to be positive for the virus.

After the lions began to show symptoms including fever, the Zoo authorities decided to send their samples to a Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). The samples were sent on April 19, and the RT-PCR tests revealed that they were positive for COVID-19.

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Director Rakesh Mishra confirmed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern. “Eight animals were found positive, they had symptoms also. We checked that they are infected with the old variant, not the new variant that we are concerned about,” Mr. Mishra said.

“The animals are recovering, they are fine, they are eating. They are also putting systems in place so that the animals are more isolated, removing possibilities of more infections. All those procedures are being put in place,” Mishra added.

This is the first time an animal in India has tested positive for coronavirus. The CCMB Director said the lions may have been infected through zoo-keeping staff. According to a Zoo official, the infected lions have been isolated and the necessary treatment has been provided.

However, officials say there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans. “Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have tested SARS-COV-2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further,” the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said.

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