Monkeys steal Covid-19 blood samples at medical college in India

While Vervet monkeys often cause a headache for many South Africans when they invite themselves into homes to raid the fruit cupboard, they cannot be blamed for one of the wackiest stories so far in 2020.

At Meerut Medical College in Delhi, India, a troop of red-faced rhesus macaques recently attacked a lab assistant and stole a batch of patients' blood samples, reports Zululand Observer.

The patients had reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.

Initially reported by the UK's Sky News and flagged as fake news by Facebook's fact-checking system, the story was proven to be true by fact-checking website Africa Check.

The monkeys stole the blood samples, as well as sample collection kits, from a lab assistant at the medical college.

One of the monkeys was later seen in a tree, reportedly chewing on one of the sample collection kits, but soon dropped it after realising it was not food.

This meant the blood samples had to be taken again.

"The samples were still intact and we don't think there is any risk of contamination or spread," said Dheeraj Raj, superintendent of Meerut Medical College.

Dr SK Garg, a top official at the college, said it was not clear if the monkeys could contract the coronavirus if they had come into contact with the sampled blood.

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