Eight Asiatic lions at Nehru Zoological Park in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus that is responsible for Covid-19 infections, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said today.

“Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have tested SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans any further,” it said.

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On April 24, Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad, shared the samples collected from nose, throat and respiratory tract from eight Asiatic lions under anesthesia as they had showed signs of respiratory distress. 

Based on detailed diagnostic tests and report on May 4, it has been confirmed that the eight Asiatic lions have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting the ministry.

The confirmation came from Cellular and Molecular Biology Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) in Hyderabad.

Further analyses of the samples have revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern.

“The eight lions have been isolated and they have responded well to the treatment and are recovering,” the ministry said adding the animals are behaving normally and eating well.

Preventive measures are already in place for all zoo staff and the zoo has been closed to visitors to avoid external contact.

Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2.



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