04/03/2020 3:29 PM IST | Updated 04/03/2020 3:31 PM IST

Chennai Wants To Deport A Cat To China Over Coronavirus Fears

PETA is fighting to keep the cat in India and find it a permanent home here.

Representative Image/Getty

A stowaway cat, which arrived in a container from China and has been held at the Chennai port, is now facing deportation back to the country over fears of carrying coronavirus, IANS reported.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals is fighting to keep the cat in India and find it a permanent home here after the Chennai quarantine facility recommended sending the animal back to his or her suspected country of origin the report said.

In its letter to the Chennai port authority, PETA said ships coming from China reportedly dock in Singapore, Colombo, and elsewhere, and containers are opened to offload goods, so the cat could have entered the ship at any of its stopping points. The NGO said it was likely the animal would be treated cruelly upon arrival in China where cats are often killed for meat or fur.

The World Health Organization has said that at present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.

“However, it is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets,” it says.

Last week, a pet dog in Hong Kong had tested “weak positive” for novel coronavirus.

The dog had no symptoms but its nasal and oral cavities had tested “weak positive” for the virus, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement. The dog was put into quarantine and would be repeatedly tested until the result comes back negative, the statement said.

Jane Gray, chief veterinary surgeon of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Hong Kong, told CNN that while dogs and cats do get coronaviruses, they are not the same as the virus associated with the current outbreak.

BBC’s report says volunteers in China are struggling to take care of stray animals and pets stranded without owners as they deal with strict quarantine measures in the country.

Photos showed people in China fitting their pets with makeshift masks as the outbreak spread.

Gray says this does not help and is probably distressing for the animal.