WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
Cats and dogs have reportedly been thrown from tower blocks in China after a rumour circulated claiming that the animals spread the coronavirus.
One dog was found dead after allegedly being thrown from a tower block in the Heyuan Guohe Garden area of Tianjin City in China's Hebei Province.
Local media report the pooch was thrown from the upper floors of a tower block at 4am and that it smashed the sunroof of a car before ending up on the ground.
Reports state the sound of the dog hitting the car woke neighbours up as it sounded like a tyre explosion.
They then found the dog lying dead on the ground with its blood staining the bricks.
The owner of the dog has not been identified, while the vehicle owner is waiting for the police to name them so they receive compensation for the damage done to the car.
Reports also state five cats were thrown to their deaths in the city of Shanghai, with locals believing they were pets as they had smooth and clean fur. Their owner has not been identified.
The incidents come after Dr Li Lanjuan said in an interview on China Central Television: "If pets come into contact with suspected patients, they should be quarantined."
However, a local media outlet named Zhibo China reportedly tweaked her words into "cats and dogs can spread the coronavirus".
The rumour spread quickly shortly after Zhibo China posted it on social media platform Weibo.
China Global Television Network's official Weibo account has tried try to put an end to the rumour.
"There is no evidence showing that pets such as cats and dogs can contract the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organisation said on Wednesday in one of its responses to people's concerns over the recent virus outbreak. The organisation suggested washing hands with soap and water to prevent other germs from transmitting between humans and animals," it posted.
"We hope the police can find the cold-blooded guardians of those poor animals as soon as possible," PETA Asia press officer for China, Keith Guo, told Asia Wire.
"In fact, it's the filthy factory farms, slaughterhouses, and meat markets that threaten the health of every human being on the planet by providing a breeding ground for deadly diseases like coronavirus, SARS, bird flu, and more."
The lethal pandemic has already claimed 259 lives in China, with shocking photographs emerging which show the bodies of victims lying on the streets of Wuhan, where the outbreak is said to have originated.
Around 11,800 people are now believed to be infected and there have been confirmed cases in at least 20 countries, including 10 cases in Australia.
A fourth case of coronavirus has just been confirmed in Victoria after a woman aged in her 20s became ill two days after returning from Chinese city of Wuhan last Saturday.
She was not infectious on her flight back to Victoria and is recovering at home in isolation, as authorities wait for 13 other test results for the respiratory illness.
Strict quarantine measures have been put in place across the globe, with those exposed to the virus facing a two-week isolation period in countries such as the US.
The US has also moved to temporarily bar foreign nationals who have travelled in China within the last 14 days, while Americans returning from China will be allowed into the country, but will face screening at select ports of entry and required to undertake 14 days of self-screening to ensure they don't pose a health risk.
Those returning from Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak, will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine.