This article originally appeared on VICE India.
Everyone’s afraid of the big, bad coronavirus. Except, apparently, monkeys.
In the city of Meerut in India’s Uttar Pradesh, a bunch of monkeys allegedly swooped in and stole blood test samples of three patients. No, we’re not monkeying around.
These samples were being taken for testing by a lab technician at the Meerut Medical College when a troop of monkeys snatched them and ran away. The monkeys were last seen climbing a tree while chewing on some sample collection kits, though some were also found strewn on the ground.
While initial reports suggested that the blood samples were those of suspected coronavirus patients, the principal of the Meerut college told ANI that no coronavirus positive swabs were stolen. However, according to India Today, Chief Superintendent Dr Dheeraj Balyan claimed that these samples did belong to suspected coronavirus patients, and that the forest department has not taken any action yet. The city’s district magistrate has promised to launch an inquiry into this matter too.
While folks in Meerut have gotten pretty used to being harassed by hordes of monkeys, locals are now super worried about this incident impacting the spread of the highly infectious virus since the monkeys ran and took cover in a nearby residential area. They also point out that these monkeys probably committed this crime because they were on the lookout for food, since they're largely reliant on tourists to feed them.
This also means that there's a possibility of coronavirus spreading to the monkey species, especially after incidents like the tigers at Bronx Zoo as well as pet cats getting infected by asymptomatic owners have shown that this highly contagious virus doesn’t only target humans.
Meanwhile, some Twitter users are coming up with Ramayana-related theories to explain this bizarre robbery. One user even said that these monkeys were a part of Lord Rama’s ‘Vanar Sena’, which helped him after Sita was abducted by Ravana. They also apparently believe that since it was Lord Hanuman, the monkey god, who discovered the sanjeevani booti— a herb which is said to bring people back from their deathbeds—these monkeys too could help humans finally find the cure for COVID-19. Okay, then.
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