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Yes, monkeys in India stole Covid-19 blood samples from lab assistant

“Coronavirus: Monkeys ‘escape with Covid-19 samples’ after attacking lab assistant,” reads what seems to be a screenshot of a tweet by British broadcaster Sky News, posted on Facebook.

A comment on the tweet adds: “2020 can’t be real.”

The screenshot has been viewed more than 47,000 times, and the story posted elsewhere on Facebook. But it’s also been flagged as possibly false by Facebook’s fact-checking system.

Did a troop of monkeys attack a lab assistant and steal Covid-19 test samples?

Blood samples from Covid-19 patients

The screenshot is real, and shows a Sky News tweet from 29 May 2020.

It links to a Sky News report that a troop of monkeys – “highly intelligent red-faced rhesus macaques” – stole blood samples taken from patients at Meerut Medical College in Delhi, India. The patients had tested positive for the new coronavirus.

One of the monkeys was later seen in a tree “chewing one of the sample collections kits”, which meant blood samples from the three patients had to be taken again.

Dheeraj Raj, the superintendent of Meerut Medical College, told AFP that the samples “were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread”. 

Reuters reports that the monkeys attacked the lab technician walking on the medical college’s campus.

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


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