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HomeUncategorizedHong Kong to kill 2,000 animals after hamsters get COVID-19

Hong Kong to kill 2,000 animals after hamsters get COVID-19

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  • Hong Kong authorities say they will kill about 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at a pet store where an employee was also infected
  • Government also orders all 34 licensed pet stores that sell hamsters to suspend operations
  • Two people tied to Little Boss pet shop confirmed as infected and 150 customers ordered into quarantine
A pet store is closed after some pet hamsters were, authorities said, tested positive for the coronavirus, in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday that they will kill about 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at the pet store where an employee was also infected. | Photo: AP

HONG KONG – Authorities in Hong Kong announced Tuesday that they will slaughter approximately 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at a pet store where an employee was also infected.

According to Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department officials, the city will also prohibit the sale of hamsters and the importation of small mammals. On Monday, a pet shop employee tested positive for the delta variant, as did several hamsters imported from the Netherlands at the store.

According to the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, animals do not appear to play a significant role in coronavirus transmission. However, Hong Kong authorities have stated that they are not ruling out the possibility of transmission between animals and humans.

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

While this coronavirus most likely jumped from animals to humans in the first place, the outbreak quickly became a pandemic due to the virus’s ease of transmission between people. According to Dr. Scott Weese of Ontario Veterinary College, minks are the only known animals to have caught the virus from people and spread it back.

A police officer stands guard outside a pet store that was closed after some pet hamsters were, authorities said, tested positive for the coronavirus, in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday that they will kill about 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at the pet store where an employee was also infected. | Photo: AP

During a news conference, Leung Siu-fai, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, stated that owners should keep their hamsters at home and not take them out.

“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,” he said.

“Do not kiss your pets,” he added.

Customers who purchased hamsters from the store after January 7 will be traced, subjected to mandatory quarantine, and will be required to surrender their hamsters to authorities for euthanasia, according to officials.

They stated that all pet stores in Hong Kong must stop selling hamsters and that around 2,000 small mammals, including hamsters and chinchillas, will be humanely slaughtered.

Customers who purchased hamsters in Hong Kong after December 22 must submit to obligatory testing and are advised not to contact others until their tests are negative. Their hamsters will be quarantined if they test positive.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Hong Kong expressed “shock and concern” about the decision to kill the animals and urged the government not to “take any drastic action before reviewing its approach.”

Hong Kong has been dealing with a local omicron outbreak traced back to many Cathay Pacific crew members who dined at various bars and restaurants before testing positive for the omicron type.


A staffer from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department walks past a pet shop which was closed after some pet hamsters were, authorities said, tested positive for the coronavirus, in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday that they will kill about 2,000 small animals, including hamsters, after several tested positive for the coronavirus at the pet store where an employee was also infected. | Photo: AP

Late Monday, the authorities revealed that two former flight attendants had been arrested for leaving their homes during quarantine and afterwards being diagnosed with coronavirus infections. It did not name their employment, but stated that the two arrived from the United States on December 24 and 25 and “conducted unnecessary activities” while under medical supervision.

The arrests came after Cathay Pacific announced the dismissal of two crew members for violating coronavirus regulations. It earlier apologized and termed their actions “very unsatisfactory.” Due to tightened virus limitations, the firm was forced to cut back on flights — both passenger and freight — in January.

The two have been released on bond and their case will be heard in court on February 9. They might face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($642) if found guilty of violating anti-epidemic legislation.

Previously, some air and sea crew workers in Hong Kong may isolate at home due to quarantine exemptions. On December 31, regulations were tightened to compel crew members to isolate at a designated quarantine hotel for nearly a week.

This article contains materials from South China Morning Post

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