Pictures of pet cats wearing makeshift face masks are going viral in China as fears of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID-19) spread globally.
Some worried pet owners are taking human-sized surgical masks and cutting two eye holes out for their cats to wear. Other cats are given masks that only cover their mouths, leaving their eyes fully exposed, according to The Sun.
One Beijing-based online retailer told reporters that he is selling 10 times more specially-made masks for dogs than usual.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it has no evidence that suggests pets can be infected by the COVID-19, but China’s National Health Commission claims animals may get infected if it comes in contact with a person carrying the virus.
“If pets go out and have contact with an infected person, they have the chance to get infected,” spokesman and epidemiologist Li Lanjuan said. “By then, pets need to be isolated. In addition to people, we should be careful with other mammals especially pets.”
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine echoed a similar sentiment in its report on Feb. 6.
“Coronaviruses occur in virtually every species of animal, including humans, and are commonly associated with unapparent or transient intestinal and respiratory infections,” said Dr. Niels Pedersen, a distinguished emeritus professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a renowned expert on infectious and immunologic diseases in dogs and cats.
“They tend to be very species-specific and cross-species transmission is uncommon.”
Despite the word from the international health community, some Chinese citizens still make their pets wear protective gear against the coronavirus.
Local Chinese authorities reportedly told citizens to pay attention to their pets, fearing they could also contract the virus.
Feature Image via @里神楽