The British Veterinary Association (BVA), has posted a statement on its website, calling on UK visitors to the island to take precautions against cat covid or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

Anyone travelling to Cyprus for a holiday should avoid touching cats and make sure to clean the soles of their shoes and suitcase wheels before leaving the island to avoid inadvertently bringing the virus into the UK, BVA senior vice president Justine Shotton recommends.

According to the recommendation cats imported from Cyprus to the UK should also be tested for the virus before travel and not be removed if they test positive.

“A widespread outbreak of feline infectious peritonitis has been reported in both stray and indoor cat populations in Cyprus since January,” the statement says, referencing a post by Demetris Epaminondas, vice president of the Pancyprian Veterinary Association on the Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations (FECAVA) website.

The BVA senior vice president, is further quoted as stating that reported cases of feline FIP in Cyprus are understandably concerning, however, the condition is already seen in cats in the UK.

“While tests are ongoing to determine if this is a new strain of the virus, our…advice for cat owners is to contact their vet if they have any concerns about their pet’s health,” the statement says.

Earlier in the month, the local authorities downplayed as sensational international media reports of 300,000 cats having died from FIP on the island.

The source for the astounding claim was vice president of the NGO Voice for Animals, Dinos Agiomammitis, who said that his words had been lost in translation.

He explained that there is a very rough and hypothetical estimate that there are 1 million cats on the island. Extrapolating from there, if a mortality rate of 20-30 per cent of infected animals dying is applied, the resulting number is 300,000, he told CyBC’s morning programme.

But the director of the Veterinary Services Charalmbos Pipis responded that they cannot confirm the number of 300,000 dead cats from feline infectious peritonitis.

“These data are based on estimations, since there is not an official recorded number of the cats in Cyprus,” he said.

Calling the reports “baseless” the veterinary association last week stated that an estimated 8,000 clinical cases had been reported since January.