An incident that reads right out of a work of fiction, a gang of monkeys in India physically assaulted a lab technician transporting COVID blood samples recently taken from patients being treated for the disease and ran off.
The attack happened Thursday at Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College and Hospital in Meerut, located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
“Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment,” Dr. S. K. Garg, an official at the school, told Reuters. “We had to take their blood samples again.”
A video posted on Twitter shows the monkeys biting on the samples and then dropping them on the ground below. Those samples were recovered undamaged, according to Meerut medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj.
A monkey in India’s Meerut intervened a lab technician carrying blood samples of Covid-19 patients and snatched the packets from him. Technician now facing inquiry over why he choose to record the incident instead of rescuing the packets.#coronavirus pic.twitter.com/mO1gmdGEwX
— Rishikesh Kumar (@rishhikesh) May 29, 2020
Once the video went viral there was some panic and alarm among residents in Meerut over fears the monkeys could take the infected samples to residential areas and spread the virus. India has already seen their number of infected rise to over 167,000 and the virus kill nearly 5,000.
It’s unclear if the monkeys would be able to contract the virus if they were to of come into contact with the infected blood samples, but Garg did state that no evidence has been found thus far proving whether the monkeys could or could not contract the deadly virus. Given that the virus is believed to have originated within bats and has also been transmitted to zoo animals in some cases there is a better than likely chance monkeys could also catch the disease.
It’s also important to note that India has a rough relationship with the local monkey tribes and how aggressive they’ve become in recent years. Experts say it’s because of the destruction to their natural habitat. It also doesn’t help that with more people staying indoors due to the COVID-19 lockdown monkeys have begun to ‘retake’ city centers and other areas that used to be greatly frequented by people.