A gang of monkeys in Delhi, India assaulted a laboratory assistant and escaped with coronavirus test samples from three patients, according to Sky News, citing local media.
The incident happened near Meerut Medical College. According to the report, one of the monkeys was later spotted in a tree chewing one of the sample collection kits, the Times of India reported - which noted that the patients required new tests.
While they have proved an increasing problem in urban areas of the country in recent years, lockdown measures in the last two months have emboldened the monkeys.
Reports have shown them congregating in parts of Delhi normally crowded with humans. -Sky
In March we noted that rival monkey gangs in Thailand - driven by starvation due to a lack of visitors amid the pandemic - have been roving the streets looking for food.
The ferocity of the animals shocked even locals, who are used to seeing the monkeys on a daily basis. One onlooker who captured video of the monkeys said: "They looked more like wild dogs than monkeys. They went crazy for the single piece of food. I've never seen them this aggressive," according to the Daily Mail.
Hundreds of hungry monkeys swarm across Thai street as 'rival gangs' fight over food after tourists who normally feed them stay away because of coronavirus https://t.co/lQZ0sOzwDF pic.twitter.com/8TgrCTBrQ8— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) March 12, 2020
According to the Sky report, people have been advised not to feed monkeys during the pandemic over fears that doing so could cause the disease to mutate and infect primates. If that happened, it could have a devastating impact.
"The point is, we have very little understanding of the virus, and it is better to limit our interactions with wildlife till there is more research done on its effects on non-human primates and other animal species," a senior biologist from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department previously told The Hindu.
"Very often they snatch food from people as they are walking, and sometimes they even tear files and documents by climbing in through the windows," said Home Ministry employee Ragni Sharma in 2018.