Liège: A pet cat in Belgium has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, after having caught the virus from close contact with its owner, who had recently returned from Italy. Also Read - Even Cats and Dogs in China Are Now Wearing Face Masks Amid Coronavirus Crisis | See Pictures

The cat was tested after it demonstrated several recognised symptoms of COVID-19, including difficulty breathing. When its stool was examined, traces of the virus discovered. Also Read - Amid Coronavirus Fears, Pet Dogs and Cats Are Being Thrown From Apartments in China

Health officials noted that the diagnosis comes a week after the cat’s owner fell sick from the deadly virus.

“Recently, the veterinary medicine faculty in Liège reported that a coronavirus infection has been determined in a cat. The cat lived with her owner, who started showing symptoms of the virus a week before the cat did,” virologist Steven Van Gucht said at a Federal Public Service Health press conference on Friday, The Brussels Times reported.

This is the first known case of a cat getting sick from the novel coronavirus, though experts have stressed that the case was exceptional. Reassuring pet owners, they further said that cases of contamination of pets are rare and authorities ruled out any risk of contamination to humans from home animals.

A government agency spokesman stressed that this was an isolated case which can occur after close contact between animals and infected humans.

“Animals are not vectors of the epidemic, so there is no reason to abandon your animal,” the agency said.

World Health Organisation, had also noted that there is “no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19” to human owners.

However, two dogs previously tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong, with a 17-year-old Pomeranian eventually succumbing to the deadly virus.