Coronavirus news: Pandas tested for COVID-19 after keepers become ‘nervous’

All 208 pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in southwest China’s Sichuan Province were tested for COVID-19 after it was reported several tigers and lions at New York City’s Bronx Zoo tested positive for coronavirus. With the giant felines testing positive for the disease, officials at the panda breeding centre became “very nervous” their bears could have also contracted it.

Zhang Zhihe, the secretary of the enclosure told China Central Television Station: “Pandas suffer from many illnesses that can be caught by both humans and animals.

“So afterwards, we immediately arranged samples to be taken.”

Thankfully, the pandas all tested negative.

Mr Zhang said: “All the tests came back with negative results, and no panda in our base has been infected by the virus.”

The pandas at the Chengdu Research Base have been used as “therapeutic companions” for those recovering from coronavirus.

The base has been creating tailor-made videos of the pandas at the enclosure and sending them to those who have been on the mend.

Mr Zhang continued: “We know that pandas have therapeutic powers. We hope their cute looks can help relieve (patients’) anxiety.”

Total confirmed coronavirus cases have now surpassed 4.9 million – impacting every corner of the globe.

The number of dead from the disease has also exceeded 321,000.

The US has been the worst affected by the disease, recording more than 1.5 million cases, and over 92,000 deaths.

In the UK there are now more than 240,000 confirmed cases, resulting in more than 34,000 deaths – making it the worst affected country in Europe in terms of deaths.

Lockdown measures in many countries are slowly being eased, including in the UK where people are now allowed out for more than an hour a day.

However, authorities warn it could still be a while before the UK is back to any sense of normality.

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Coronaviruses are a group of viruses which include the likes of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Symptoms of COVID-19 are generally flu-like, with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listing the following symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

The CDC said: “Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

“This is more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.”

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