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ANIMALS

Coronavirus: Four lions test positive at Barcelona zoo

Four lions at Barcelona Zoo, three of them older females, caught Covid-19 last month but suffered only mild symptoms and have since recovered, the Catalan animal park said.

Coronavirus: Four lions test positive at Barcelona zoo
File photo of lions in a zoo: AFP

Their keepers were tipped off when they noticed “mild respiratory symptoms” among three 16-year-old females and a four-year-old male, a zoo statement said.

The symptoms emerged as two of their keepers tested positive for the virus.   

“The four lions were tested with the viral antigen detection kit… and were found to be positive,” it said, indicating the diagnosis was confirmed by PCR tests.

They were immediately treated with anti-inflammatories and closely monitored under a protocol similar to that for the flu, and “responded positively”.

“At no time were the lions seen having difficultly breathing or other respiratory issues, and all symptoms disappeared within a fortnight, apart from coughing and sneezing,” the zoo said.

To avoid catching the virus, the keepers wore FFP3 masks, plexiglass visors and protective footwear, and they were lowered into the enclosure in a halter.   

The zoo also contacted “international experts such as the Bronx Zoo veterinary service in New York, the only one to have documented a case of Sars-CoV-2 infection in big cats,” it said.

In early April, a four-year-old female tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19, likely contracting it from a keeper who was asymptomatic at the time.

Since the start of the pandemic, cats, dogs and various other animals have tested positive for Covid-19 but until now, minks are the only animals proven to both contract the virus and pass it on to humans.

Several countries have ordered the mass culling of their mink populations, notably Denmark where more than 10 million have already been killed.

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COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

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