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'World's smallest cow' could be a huge public health risk

Bangladesh is experiencing its worst wave of COVID-19 yet, but thousands are flocking to see Rani the tiny cow.

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Munir Uz Zaman/AFP

Rani may be the world's smallest cow. Look at her, she's adorable! She also may be a public health risk. 

Bangladeshis are flocking in the thousands to see the 26-inch-long Bhutanese cow, according to an AFP report. Rani resides in Shikor Agro farm outside of Dhaka, the country's densely populated capital city, and his owners claim he's four inches smaller than the cow recognized in the Guinness World Records as the globe's smallest. Interest in Rani is understandable, but it comes at a perilous time. Bangladesh's COVID-19 cases are higher than ever: Cases swelled over 11,000 for the first time on July 6. 

Hasan Howlader, the manager of Shikor Agro farm, told AFP that over 15,000 people had traveled to see Rani in the previous three days. "People come long distances despite the coronavirus lockdown," he said. "Most want to take selfies with Rani." 

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Munir Uz Zaman/AFP  

Bangladesh's government introduced a "hard lockdown" across the country in late June as COVID-19 deaths reached new heights. During the first coronavirus wave in 2020, recorded deaths peaked at 55. A second wave in April saw a weekly average of 100 deaths. Cases and deaths fell in May, but shot up sharply in the middle of June. July 7 saw 200 recorded deaths and 11,162 new cases. 

Around 4.2 million of the country's 163 million citizens are fully vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization. As in other Asian countries, Bangladesh's latest wave of COVID-19 is thought to be largely caused by the more infectious Delta variant. Bangladesh shares a border with India, which in mid-May saw as many as 403,000 new cases recorded in a day. Super-spreader events such as political rallies and the Kumbh Mela have been blamed for India's catastrophic second wave in May. 

Rani's owners have applied to the Guinness World Records, hoping to make her claim as world's smallest cow official. The tiny cow is a result of "genetic inbreeding" and is likely to stay at its current size, the region's chief vet said, according to AFP.