UPDATE: The Department of Veterinary Services Malaysia has since released a statement that pet animals do not spread the Covid-19 to humans, and has advised all pet owners to remain calm and continue maintaining good hygiene habits. Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has also conceded to this statement.
In a recent press conference that was held yesterday (7th April 2020), the Ministry of Health Director-General, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, has advised all Malaysians to avoid close contact with animals for the time being, according to Malay Mail, NST and FMT.
This comes after reporters asked the Director-General about what pet owners can do and if the Health Ministry will be providing screening for animals, following the most recent case of a Malayan tiger testing positive for Covid-19.
The Health Director-General notes that coronaviruses are mainly found in animals, and despite that, only seven coronaviruses have infected humans. Among them include Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), and now Covid-19.
“So what is important is that basically we are telling our people, try to avoid close contact with animals, because there is a possibility that if we have close contact with animals, if that animal is infected with a virus, and that virus can infect human beings, for example — coronavirus.” he said.
Maintaining good hygiene continues to be crucial, so Malaysians are reminded to wash their hands often, or use sanitisers where soap is not available. In an additional Facebook post, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah continues to stress the importance of good hygiene practices, especially in households with pets. The Ministry of Health will also continue to work closely with the Department of Veterinary Services for more advice on this matter.
While additional precautions are necessary, this does not mean that you should abandon your household pets at all. Simply continue to maintain good hygiene habits, and practice social distancing as prescribed by the Ministry of Health!
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