Monkeys 'Escape with COVID-19 samples' After Attacking Lab Assistant
Monkeys in New Delhi attacked a lab assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus test samples, according to Sky News.
- One of the monkeys was later seen chewing one of the sample collection kits up in a tree, the Times of India reported, adding that the test samples had to be retaken from the patients.
- The attack is thought to be an example of the emboldened attitude of the rhesus macaques monkeys during India’s nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- As the monkeys have grown used to living in close contact with humans, it is believed that certain groups are struggling with the reduction of available human food because of the lockdown.
People have been discouraged from feeding the monkeys out of concerns that it could possibly cause the virus to mutate and infect primates, given how little is currently known about the virus.
- A senior biologist from Tamil Nadu Forest Department warned that a mutated virus could have a devastating effect on wildlife. He said:
"The point is, we have very little understanding of the virus, and it is better to limit our interactions with wildlife till there is more research done on its effects on non-human primates and other animal species.”
Reports have previously emerged regarding the chaotic nature of monkeys roaming in New Delhi, which has only grown worse during the lockdown.
"Very often they snatch food from people as they are walking, and sometimes they even tear files and documents by climbing in through the windows," said Ragini Sharma, a home ministry employee, in 2018.