A troop of monkeys in India is currently on the run with blood samples of four Covid-19 patients.
The primates attacked a laboratory technician and snatched away the samples earlier this week, authorities said.
The attack occurred when the technician was walking on the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut, 460 km (285 miles) north of Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
Dr S. K. Garg, a top official at the college, said: ‘Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment … we had to take their blood samples again.’
Authorities said they were not clear if the monkeys had spilled the blood samples, but people living near the leafy campus feared further spread of the virus if the monkeys carried the samples into residential areas.
Dr Garg said it was not clear if the primates could contract the coronavirus if they came into contact with infected blood.
He added: ‘No evidence has been found that monkeys can contract the infection.’
The virus is believed to have jumped from animals into people in a wildlife market in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. India has had 165,799 cases of the coronavirus and 4,706 deaths.
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Monkeys have been increasingly straying into human settlements in India and causing disturbances, even attacking people.
Environmentalists say the destruction of natural habitat is the main reason the animals move into urban areas in search of food.
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