The incident happened on Thursday when a lab assistant working with the COVID-19 facility of the hospital was carrying blood samples due for testing, Dr. Dheeraj Baliyan, medical superintendent of Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College and Hospital, told CNN.
The monkeys attacked the lab assistant and stole the sample box with three samples, added Baliyan.
S.K. Garg, head of the hospital, told a local newswire that the samples were blood samples, and not the swabs usually taken to test for COVID-19. Garg said that the samples belonged to people who had tested positive for COVID-19, but were taken as part of routine blood tests for the patients.
The monkeys climbed the trees with the samples and threw them after chewing the packets, Baliyan added.
The medical superintendent confirmed to CNN that no individual came into contact with the samples, and the hospital authorities have sanitized the area and disposed of the samples snatched by the monkeys.
The district administration has ordered an inquiry against the hospital authorities for alleged mishandling of the samples.
According to India's health ministry, the total number of coronavirus cases in the country as of Friday stands at 165,799, including 4,706 deaths.
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