Thousands of pets are trapped and facing starvation in Wuhan, local activists say.
Pet owners either stuck in quarantine or stranded outside the city amid a lockdown that began January 23 are unable to return to their pets.
The coronavirus has so far killed 492 people and infected more than 23,000 across 26 countries, with the vast majority of cases recorded in China.
Thousands of pets are trapped and facing starvation at home because their owners are either in quarantine or stranded outside the Chinese city of Wuhan amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The coronavirus has killed 492 people and infected more than 23,000 across 26 countries since it broke out in Wuhan in early December, and now thousands of animals may also be at risk of dying, not because of the virus but from starvation.
The vast majority of confirmed cases of infection have been in China, and Wuhan was put on lockdown on January 23 in an attempt to contain the virus, meaning many residents of the city who were traveling around the busy Lunar New Year period were unable to return to their homes and pets.
The mayor of Wuhan said 5 million people had left the city ahead of the festive period, and many residents are also believed to be in quarantine, preventing them from returning home and leaving pets trapped, according to Reuters.
A local animal-rights volunteer known as "Lao Mao," or "old cat," has been contacted by worried pet owners over social media and has been tasked with entering pet owners' houses to find their pets and free them, according to Reuters.
Lao Mao estimated that up to 50,000 pets had been left at home in Wuhan and told Reuters that without intervention the animals "may die of starvation in the coming days."
Du Fan, the president of the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association, said that without help, "The dogs and cats would have decomposed at home before their owners got home," according to China Daily, which cited Red Star news.
It is thought that the city has at least 600,000 to 800,000 pet cats and dogs, and more than 700 families have asked the association for help so far, according to China Daily.
Reports have also emerged of local government orders to cull street dogs in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, and Shanghai and the provinces of Shandong, Heilongjiang, Hubei, and Shanxi over fears animals might be able to transmit the virus, according to Newsweek, which cited a representative from Humane Society International, an animal-rights organization in the US.
According to the World Health Organization, which declared the coronavirus a global public health emergency last Thursday, there is no evidence cats and dogs can be infected with the coronavirus.
Humane Society International has been assisting local groups in China in educating the public that pets do not pose a risk and is assisting with pet rescue missions.
Read the original article on Business Insider