Picture used for illustrative purpose only.
A troop of monkeys in India attacked a medical official and snatched away blood samples of patients who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, authorities said on Friday.
The attack occurred this week when a laboratory technician was walking in the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut, 460 km north of Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
"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," said Dr SK Garg, a top official at the college.
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.
Garg said it was not clear if the monkeys could contract the coronavirus if they came into contact with infected blood.
"No evidence has been found that monkeys can contract the infection," Garg told Reuters.
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.
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.
The railways in Lucknow has hired two brothers, belonging to the Kalandar community, to shoo away monkeys by mimicking the voice of langur.
The tally of infections stands at 11.51 million, the highest after the United States and Brazil. Deaths rose by 154 to 159,370, data from the health ministry showed.
A year ago, India had observed what Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a people’s curfew, marking the start of a chaotic nationwide lockdown in a bid to contain the virus. With 11.6 million cases, India is now the worst-affected country after the United States and Brazil.
MoHAP also noted that an additional 1,922 individuals had fully recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 597,008.
The HMS Defender "was given a preliminary warning that weapons would be used if the state borders of the Russian Federation were violated. It did not react to the warning," the ministry said, adding that the ship left Russian waters after the shots were fired.
The video spread like wildfire on social media, and users expressed their admiration for the spontaneity of the soldier, who was keen to document the moments of his parachute landing in order to make his mother happy.