Seoul to give free COVID-19 tests to pets

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s capital says it will give pet dogs and cats free coronavirus tests if they come into contact with infected humans and show symptoms.

Seoul official Park Yoo-mi told an online briefing that pets found infected with the virus must be quarantined at their homes or a city-run facility for 14 days.

The central government last week released guidelines on virus tests on pets, after a cat in the southeastern city of Jinju became the country’s first animal confirmed to have COVID-19. The cat belongs to a mother and daughter who were among dozens of confirmed patients associated with a Jinju religious facility.

Park said officials are ready to conduct free tests of pets starting Monday.

Seoul officials say authorities will test pets, not all animals, because they are in close contact with humans. Other local governments plan to launch similar tests for pets.

South Korea’s tally of newly confirmed coronavirus cases fell below 300 on Monday for the first time in more than two months as authorities slightly eased physical distancing rules. Officials began allowing restaurants, coffee shops, indoor gyms and other facilities outside the densely populated Seoul region to stay open an hour longer.

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