Lion at S'pore Zoo tests positive for Covid-19

It had shown signs of sickness on Nov. 8.

Jane Zhang | November 10, 2021, 09:31 PM

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An African lion at the Singapore Zoo has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus responsible for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic — on Nov. 10.

This comes one day after four Asiatic lions tested positive for the same virus on Tuesday (Nov. 9).

Faecal sample taken after signs of sickness

In a media statement on Wednesday, Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) said that the African lion had shown signs of sickness on Nov. 8, and a faecal sample was taken from it thereafter.

This faecal sample then came back positive for SARS-CoV-2 via PCR.

In a prior statement, AVS had said that the four Asiatic lions had displayed mild signs of sickness, such as coughing, sneezing and lethargy on Nov. 6, and were subsequently tested, and that the African lion had exhibited similar symptoms and was undergoing testing as well.

Lions isolated into two separate groups

AVS stated that it had previously issued an order under the Animals and Birds Act to Mandai Wildlife Group to isolate the nine Asiatic lions and five African lions as two separate groups, within the Night Safari and Singapore Zoo respectively.

This includes the five lions that have tested positive for Covid-19.

All of the lions are isolated within their respective dens, AVS said.

"We will continue to work with the Mandai Wildlife Group to closely monitor the health of the lions, which includes sampling and testing of their faecal material for the SARS-CoV-2 virus."

AVS reassured the public that according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), there is currently no evidence that animals play a role in the spread of Covid-19 to humans.

However, there have been sporadic and isolated reports in other countries of animals testing positive after being in close contact with Covid-19 infected people.

"The current spread of Covid-19 is predominantly a result of human-to-human transmission," wrote AVS.

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Top photo via Singapore Zoo website.