A veterinary researcher from the Unversity of Cambridge has said there is no evidence cats can transmit coronavirus to people.

The reassurance comes after a tiger tested positive for the virus at a zoo in the US.

The four-year-old Malayan tiger named Nadia, and six other tigers and lionsthat have also fallen ill, are believed to have been infected by a zoo employee who was not yet showing symptoms, the Bronx Zoo said.

The first animal started showing symptoms on March 27, and all are doing well and expected to recover, according to the zoo.

But while it appears animals in the cat family can catch the virus from humans, there is no evidence the disease can travel in the other direction, scientists said.

Dr Caddy: No evidence Credit: University of Cambridge

Dr Sarah Caddy, Veterinarian and Clinical Research Fellow, University ofCambridge, said reports of a tiger with Covid-19 was not wholly unexpected as new research suggests domestic cats can be infected with the virus if large doses are administered into their noses.

"However, it is surprising that the tiger has become infected with what musthave been a fairly low dose of virus - we can assume the tiger did not havecontinual close contact with the asymptomatic zookeeper,"

And she added:

What does this mean for our pet cats? Nothing new - at present there is still only one suspected case where an owner has spread the virus to their pet.

Dr Sarah Caddy

The World Health Organisation says that while there has been one instance of a dog being infected in Hong Kong, there is no evidence a cat, dog or any pet can transmit Covid-19.

The virus is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, the expert body said.