BANGKOK (Xinhua) — Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on Saturday told the media that it had instructed its officials to hunt for crowned bats to verify whether they carry the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2).
“Since Thursday night, we entered a cave in Khao Soi Dao wildlife sanctuary, in the eastern province of Chanthaburi and have captured up to 100 crowned bats,” said Pattharaphol Manee-on, head of the wildlife health management section under the ministry’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Pattharapol said that his department is in collaboration with the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, to test the 100 captured crowned bats on their blood, saliva and excrement in the center’s lab.
He said there are about 23 species of crowned bats in Thailand, and this is the first time that the bats have been captured for tests.
Pattharapol also said that Thailand has never in history captured any of the 23 species of crowned bats found in Thai caves.
“Out of protective measures, government leaders have suggested that we test our own indigenous crowned bats to ensure they don’t carry SARS-CoV-2,” said Pattharapol, who is also the head of the wildlife veterinarian division.
Since the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Thailand, officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, had ventured out into cluster communities residing around bat caves, to educate them on how they can safely co-exist with the bats and about the risks of being infected if they eat bat meat.