SCIENTISTS in Glasgow have diagnosed a pet cat with Covid-19 in the first known case of an animal in the UK testing positive for the infection.

The cat was initially believed to be suffering from a feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection, but a tissue sample sent by the vet to Glasgow University as part of a UK-wide screening project identified coronavirus.

The diagnosis was subsequently confirmed on July 22 after the researchers forwarded the case to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (Apha) laboratory in Surrey.

The cat, who has made a full recovery, is believed to have caught the virus from its owners.

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The UK’s chief veterinary officer, Christine Middlemiss, said: “Tests conducted by [Apha] have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.

“This is a very rare event, with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days.

“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”

Glasgow University’s Centre for Virus Research had appealed for vets across the UK to send in respiratory samples or faecal swabs from any pet cats and dogs they suspected of having the SARS-CoV-2 infection, based on symptoms and possible exposure through their owners.

Professor Margaret Hosie, who works on the project, said: “There have been sporadic reports of cats from Covid-19 households in Hong Kong, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the US that tested positive for [coronavirus] and were presumed to be infected from their owners, but this is the first report of an infected cat in the UK.

“All available evidence suggests that the cat was infected from its owners, who had previously tested positive.

“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission of the virus to other animals or people in the household.”

In April, the British Veterinary Association said cat owners with coronavirus - or self-isolating in case of infection - should keep their cats indoors.

The BVA said it was possible that the virus might be carried between people by touching the animals’ fur.

However, Professor William Weir, of Glasgow University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, said there is currently “no evidence that cats, dogs or other domestic animals play any role in the epidemiology of human infections with (Covid-19)”.

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It came as the latest figures for Scotland revealed that there have been no Covid deaths for 11 days in a row.

The number of people testing positive for the virus increased again last week to 106, compared to 86, 63, and 60 in the previous three weeks. However, the number of tests being processed is also up over the period, from less than 31,000 to nearly 72,000 last week.

The number of people in hospital with the virus fell from 299 last Monday to 270 yesterday, with a reduction from three to two for patients in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that more patients are to be seen at the NHS Louisa Jordan - the Covid field hospital created by converting the SEC events campus in Glasgow.

Although it was never needed for Covid admissions, 315 patients have had orthopaedic and plastic surgery outpatient consultations at the site since the beginning of July as part of an NHS Lanarkshire trial.

The First Minister said the service will now be expanded to provide X-rays, CT scanning and ultrasounds, as well as speciality dermatology appointments, to many more patients from several health board areas.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Although the NHS Louisa Jordan has not been required to treat Covid-19 patients, it remains a vital asset in our phased approach to resuming NHS services safely where we can.

“It is providing capacity to reduce waiting lists and improve outcomes for patients across Scotland. “

She added that it still “stands ready to treat patients with the virus at just a few days’ notice”.

Jill Young, chief executive of the NHS Louisa Jordan, said: “We look forward to working with NHS boards across Scotland to help deliver key outpatient and diagnostic services for patients.”