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They Tested Positive for COVID. Monkeys Stole Their Blood

Official ambushed at medical college in India with samples from coronavirus patients
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2020 11:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – There's way too much going on in the world right now, but the monkeys in India apparently don't care. Reuters reports a "troop" of them attacked an official walking on the campus of a state-run medical college in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut and swiped blood samples of patients who'd tested positive for the coronavirus. "Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment," says one of the institution's top officials, Dr. SK Garg, who says the patients had to have blood redrawn. It's not clear if any of the blood was spilled during the scuffle or afterward. The Times of India reports that one of the monkeys was found some time later in a tree, gnawing on sample collection kits. As of Friday, India had nearly 170,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 4,800 deaths.

The monkeys' new acquisition is the latest trouble they've stirred up there. Although they've long been a nuisance in India's cities, they've reportedly become "emboldened" during the pandemic lockdown, acclimating even more than before to being around humans, per Sky News. Although Garg tells Reuters there's so far no evidence that monkeys can contract the virus from humans, scientists have been warning locals not to feed monkeys they come into contact with, as the interactions could lead to a mutated coronavirus that can spread through the primate community, as well as among other species. "We have very little understanding of the virus, and it is better to limit our interactions with wildlife till there is more research done," a senior biologist with the Tamil Nadu Forest department tells the Hindu. (Read more India stories.)

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