Hong Kong to cull hamsters after Covid-19 suspected to have spread to pets

Hong Kong following China's zero Covid-19 policy.

Belmont Lay | January 19, 2022, 03:56 AM

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Hong Kong has given the order on Jan. 18 to cull 2,000 hamsters in 34 pet shops and storage facilities, Reuters reported.

This was following the outbreak of a new cluster of Covid-19 cases traced to a pet shop, as well as evidence of the first possible animal-to-human transmission, the South China Morning Post reported.

As a result, pet owners have been warned not to kiss animals.

11 hamsters positive

A total of 11 hamsters have been categorised as preliminary-positive for Covid-19 after hundreds of test on animals were carried out.

The other animals included rabbits and chinchillas, but they have tested negative so far.

Delta variant

The outbreak of Delta variant cases in humans are linked to the shop worker, a 23-year-old saleswoman, who on Jan. 16 became the first Delta case in Hong Kong in more than three months, SCMP reported.

Do not abandon hamsters

A shipment of animals had arrived in Hong Kong from the Netherlands on Dec. 22 and they were transferred to a Little Boss warehouse in Tai Po, according to SCMP.

A second shipment arrived on Jan. 7.

Anyone who purchased a hamster after Dec. 22, 2021 have been advised to hand them over to authorities for culling, which will be done humanely.

Citizens are urged not to abandon their hamsters on the streets just because they no longer want them anymore.

A Covid-19 hotline to entertain queries related to hamsters is also being set up, Reuters reported.

Actions taken after pet shop infection detected

Two people linked to Little Boss pet shop were confirmed as infected, and another is listed as a suspected case, in what is seen as double trouble as Delta and Omicron variants are now in Hong Kong at the same time.

A total of 150 customers who had visited the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay since Jan. 7 have been ordered to enter quarantine.

Hong Kong's mainland China approach to Covid-19

Chinese-ruled Hong Kong has since proceeded with clamping down on hamsters, according to Reuters.

The city is following the mainland's zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19.

There are now dozens of new cases in humans in Hong Kong in 2022.

Thousands of people have been sent to a makeshift government quarantine facility.

The cases are mostly the new Omicron variety.

No evidence domestic animals spread Covid-19

The actions of the authorities to cull hamsters appeared in stark contrast to the overall message though.

Hong Kong's Health Secretary Sophia Chan emphasised at a news conference that there was no evidence domestic animals can pass the disease to humans.

However, the authorities were acting out of caution to ban imports and sales of pet rodents, she said.

The authorities also urged its people to wash their hands after touching animals and keep them at home instead of bringing them out.

Top photo via Unsplash