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50,000 stranded and makeshift face masks: How the coronavirus panic is impacting family pets.

The Chinese city of Wuhan looks like a ghost city.

Empty streets, closed shops, and packed hospitals, as residents remain in lockdown as the death toll from the Covid-19 epidemic surpasses 1000.

It seems pet owners in China are going one of two ways, fleeing for their lives and leaving their beloved animals behind, or well, I think the pictures will speak for themselves:

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But for those dogs and cats who don’t have owners willing to meticulously wrap them up in their very own protective raincoats, there’s a dark trend being witnessed not just Wuhan, but in neighbouring Chinese cities.

Pet owners have started throwing their cats and dogs out of tower blocks after reports claimed the deadly coronavirus can be passed on by animals.

The pet killings began after a doctor told Chinese state TV, “If pets come into contact with suspected patients, they should be quarantined,” reported YeniSafak.

Panic reigned following the publication of the fake news that quickly went viral on social media platform Weibo, which interpreted the statement as “Cats and dogs can spread the coronavirus”.

The fear was so great the China Global Television Network was forced to post a quote saying, “There is no evidence showing that pets such as cats and dogs can contract the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday”.

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With the city in lockdown for coming up to a month, many families have been unable to get back to their homes to save their animals. Five million residents fled the city before the restrictions were enforced – and many of them left without their pets.

More than 700 families have reached out to the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association for help to rescue their cats and dogs from starvation, while Wuhan Pet Life has helped more than 2000 cats struggling to survive in their homes.

Reuters estimates up to 50,000 animals have been left abandoned in Wuhan, with volunteers from more than 10 animal rescue groups racing to save them.

Stories of locals climbing up rusty pipes and breaking into homes to feed and save trapped animals have emerged, with one man telling Reuters he managed to gain entry into the home of a middle-aged couple and video call them after saving their cats.

The owners broke down and cried upon seeing their beloved pets, who hadn’t had food for 10 days.

The rescued pets are staying in volunteer’s homes, with one vet telling the South China Morning Post he has more than 100 animals in his house at the moment.

Feature image: Twitter.

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