Monkeys Attack Lab Assistant – ‘Escape With COVID-19 Samples’
Primates have been becoming more and more aggressive in India in recent years ...
Just when we though 2020 could not get any worse nor more bizarre, it has just been reported that a group of monkeys attacked a lab worker and managed to escape the facility with various coronavirus samples.
Sky News reported that the strange incident took place near Meerut Medical College in Delhi, India this week. The local media reported that the monkeys stole COVID-19 blood test samples that had been taken from three patients and then fled the scene.
One of the monkeys was later spotted up in a tree chewing on one of the sample kits, as can be seen in the video below.
Meerut medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj claimed that the kits were later recovered and that they were not damaged.
“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said.
This breed of monkeys, which are the red-faced rhesus macaques, are known for being highly intelligent, and they have become more emboldened by the coronavirus lockdowns in India. They have reportedly been congregating in areas of Delhi that are typically packed with humans, and they seem to be struggling with the absence of human food they have grown to rely on in urban areas.
Despite this, experts have warned locals not to feed the monkeys, saying that doing so could cause the virus to mutate and infect primates. A senior biologist from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department spoke out to warn that if this did indeed happen, the mutated virus could wreak havoc on primate species and other wildlife which prey on them.
“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,” he explained.
Primates have been becoming more and more aggressive in India in recent years, with reports coming in of them snatching food and cellphones from people.
“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.