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An article from Reuters claims that a health care worker in India was assaulted by a team of monkeys and robbed of the blood samples that he was carrying:

LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) - A troop of monkeys in India attacked a medical official and snatched away blood samples of patients who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus....

The attack occurred this week when a laboratory technician was walking in the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut....

“Monkeys grabbed and fled with the blood samples of four COVID-19 patients who are undergoing treatment ... we had to take their blood samples again,” said Dr S. K. Garg, a top official at the college....

Despite coming from a source that I would normally consider reliable, this article sounds so farfetched and sensational that it feels like someone's idea of a sick hoax.

Did a group of monkeys really rob a health care worker of Coronavirus-positive blood samples and take them away?

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    It is a regular occurrence for one to be swarmed and attacked by monkeys in India and many other countries (but probably not in your country which is why you find this farfetched). A video on this particular incident: youtube.com/watch?v=YGNjo6upgo0 Also, now that there are fewer humans around, monkeys (and other wildlife) are more emboldened and desperate for food. // Separate video of monkeys in Thailand fighting over some yogurt: youtube.com/watch?v=22JgHBb-0dg – user135187 May 31 at 11:40
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    Please note that answers should address the specific claim. It's not enough to give evidence that monkey attacks are common in general - we need evidence as to whether this specific attack took place, whether blood samples were taken, and whether the blood in question was actually COVID-positive. – Nate Eldredge May 31 at 18:28
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    @NateEldredge: The OP here is not satisfied with a report by Reuters and would presumably also be unsatisfied by similar reports from CNN or CBS. These reports already contain all the details that you have asked for. I am not sure what more is required save a detailed investigation, in which case every article by Reuters could be the subject of a question here. – user135187 Jun 1 at 2:14
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    The only basis for OP's skepticism is that he and most other users here (who are from North America and Europe and other European offshoots) are unfamiliar with monkey attacks and so finds them "farfetched". If the question were instead about a Reuters article reporting that someone was killed by a bear (with the question posed by an "ignorant" tropical country dweller who is unfamiliar with bears), I suspect the question would immediately have been downvoted and closed. – user135187 Jun 1 at 2:16
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    Bear in mind that in India monkeys are considered to be living representatives of the god Hanuman, and so are revered and tolerated in ways that do not apply in other cultures. bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20150528-when-god-becomes-a-pest – Paul Johnson Jun 1 at 13:11
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It is a somewhat common occurrence in more rural areas of India - I've witnessed such an event in person and even searching "monkeys stealing" into google will give you no end of similar events.

People carrying visible food often are viable targets - simple, element of surprise 'attacks' often give good results. I imagine a medic who's unfamiliar with this ordeal would drop any items and run.

This paper claims that:

Moreover, increasingly more primates worldwide are creating problems by supplementing their natural diet with food stolen from people or with garbage found around forest reserves, picnic sites and suburban areas. In the latter cases, monkeys have reduced fear and sometimes become aggressive towards humans.

This tweet claims to show a monkey holding the stolen tests, however its not clear that the monkey is holding coronavirus test samples. I'm also skeptical because this isn't a primary source - @JhaSanjay07 is a journalist, not a medic and might have reposted a video from elsewhere.

Verdict

The story sounds plausible, but perhaps is mildly overstated.

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  • Probably the most hilarious of those youtube.com/watch?v=tC7OlDANwok – SX welcomes ageist gossip May 31 at 19:32
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    Monkeys have no advantage when 'attacking' as a group - you can't be a stealthy team and you are more likely to be hunted by humans. That being said its not unlikely for two monkeys to ambush people as a team. What basis have you for this claim? I have myself been attacked by a large pack of monkeys. If they see you holding something (especially some sort of a bag), they may try to get the object (to see if it might be food). – user135187 Jun 1 at 4:27
  • Hmmm @user135187, perhaps I have insufficient evidence for such a claim, It does seem reasonable to be swarmed by a pack, but I still feel that the article has mildly exaggerated the attack here. – Krish Jun 1 at 8:14
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    This is an answer based purely on a theoretical model. We expect answers to be based on empirical evidence rather than speculative predictions. The answer has been marked as deleted. Please edit it to add references to empirical data and flag it for moderator attention in order to get it reinstated. – Oddthinking Jun 1 at 17:09

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