Hong Kong to kill 2000 animals after hamsters get COVID-19

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Hong Kong: About 2000 small animals, including hamsters, will be killed after several tested positive for the coronavirus at a Hong Kong pet store where an employee was also infected.

Hong Kong will also stop the sale of hamsters and the import of small mammals, according to officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The pet shop employee tested positive for the Delta variant on Monday, and several hamsters imported from the Netherlands at the store tested positive as well.

Hong Kong will kill about 2000 small animals, including hamsters, infected with coronavirus.Credit:Wikimedia commons

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animals do not appear to play a significant role in spreading the coronavirus. But Hong Kong authorities said they were not ruling out transmission between animals and humans.

“We cannot exclude the possibility that the shopkeeper was in fact actually infected from the hamsters,” said Edwin Tsui, a controller at the Centre for Health Protection.

“If you own a hamster, you should keep your hamsters at home, do not take them out,” department director Leung Siu-fai said at a news conference. “All pet owners should observe good personal hygiene, and after you have been in contact with animals and their food, you should wash your hands.

“Do not kiss your pets,” he added.

As a precautionary measure, customers who bought hamsters from the store after January 7 would be traced and be subject to mandatory quarantine and must hand over their hamsters to authorities to be put down, officials said.

They said all pet stores in Hong Kong must stop selling hamsters and that about 2000 small mammals, including hamsters and chinchillas, would be killed in a humane manner.

Customers who bought hamsters in Hong Kong from December 22 would be subject to mandatory testing and were urged not contact others until they recorded negatives tests. If their hamsters test positive, they will be subject to quarantine.

Hong Kong has been grappling with a local omicron outbreak traced to several Cathay Pacific crew members who dined at bars and restaurants across the city before testing positive for the Omicron variant.

AP

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