The Pomeranian dog’s test results showed it had a “a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission”, according to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.
Authorities confirmed the dog’s owner was infected with COVID-19 but the pet itself was not showing any clear symptoms.
Hong Kong’s Department of Agriculture urged residents not to panic and to not “abandon their pets”.
The department said: “Pet owners need not be overly concerned and under no circumstances should they abandon their pets.”
But authorities have still warned pet owners in Hong Kong, where 103 people have contracted coronavirus and thousands more are in self-quarantine, to take appropriate steps when getting physically close to their pets.
The Department of Agriculture said: “Pet owners are reminded to adopt good hygiene practices (including hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing them) and to maintain a clean and hygienic household environment.
“People who are sick should restrict contacting animals. If there are any changes in the health condition of the pets, advice from a veterinarian should be sought as soon as possible.”
The Society of the Protection of Animals in Hong Kong also attempted to add calm to the worrying situation, insisting being infected is not the same as being infectious, where a person or animal would be capable of spreading the virus.
The group said: “While the information tells us that the dog has a low-level of infection members of the public should note that the dog is showing no symptoms whatsoever.
“We have been informed the dog is currently very healthy and doing well at the quarantine centre.”
The World Organisation for Animal Health echoed the comments from the Society of the Protection of Animals, emphasising there is no evidence pets can spread the disease, or even get ill themselves.
The organisation said: “There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had also been investigating the case in Hong Kong to determine if the dog was actually infected or had contracted coronavirus from a contaminated surface.
WHO has published advice on its website, stating there is “no evidence” pets can catch the deadly disease, but does offer advice to people.
The advice says: “At present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.
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“However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.
“This protects you against various common bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella that can pass between pets and humans.”
Coronavirus, which emerged from China towards the end of last year, has rapidly spread to around 80 countries, with panic it could become a global epidemic surging.
The deadly virus has so far killed almost 3,300 people around the world, and infected more than 95,300 people.
The number of confirmed cases in Mainland China surged to 80,409 on Wednesday following 139 new cases – driven by an increase in Wuhan – where new infections climbed to 131 from 114 a day earlier.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Britain rose to 85 in the biggest daily jump since it was first detected in the country.
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