NEW DELHI: Analysis of samples of the eight lions that tested positive for Covid-19 at the Hyderabad Zoo has revealed that the infection was not caused by any variant of concern, the union ministry of environment and forests said.
The ministry said that the Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad shared samples (as collected from the nose, throat and respiratory tract under anaesthesia) with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology – Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (CCMB-LaCONES) for eight Asiatic lions housed in the Zoo that had shown signs of respiratory distress.
"Based on detailed diagnostic tests and report as shared by CCMB-LaCONES on 4th May 2021, it has now been confirmed that eight Asiatic lions housed in Nehru Zoological Park (NZP), Hyderabad have tested positive for SARS-CoV2 virus," it said.
The ministry said that the eight lions have been isolated and due care and necessary treatment has been provided.
"All the eight lions have responded well to treatment and are recovering. They 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 minimal external contact," said the ministry.
The Central Zoo Authority has taken several pre-emptive measures including the issuance of guidelines and advisories to the zoos towards precautions to be undertaken by zoos in the light of the increasing number of cases of SARS CoV-2.
The monitoring and guidelines for prevention, sample collection, detection in suspected cases, and safety protocols for animal keepers etc have been suggested to zoos in consultation with scientific agencies and experts Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) Uttar Pradesh and CCMB-LaCONES, Hyderabad.
As part of the next steps, new guidelines for COVID precautions are being further developed in consultation with experts.
"Based on experience with zoo animals elsewhere in the world that have experienced SARS-COV2 positive last year, there is no factual evidence that animals can transmit the disease to humans," it added.