Hong Kong Authorities To Kill 2,000 Animals After Pet Hampsters Test Positive For COVID-19
Authorities in Hong Kong announced they would kill 2,000 small animals after several hamsters in one pet store contracted COVID-19.
An employee at the pet store tested positive for the Delta variant of the coronavirus on Monday and in addition, several hamsters that had been imported from the Netherlands tested positive. “We cannot exclude the possibility that the shopkeeper was infected from the hamsters,” Edwin Tsui, a controller at the Centre for Health Protection, said.
“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,” Leung Siu-fai, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said during a news conference. He suggested that all pet owners keep hamsters at home. “Do not kiss your pets,” he said.
Everyone who purchased a hamster at the store since Jan. 7 will be traced and placed under mandatory quarantine and will additionally be forced to surrender their hamsters to be euthanized. Mandatory testing will be given to those who purchased hamsters in late December 2021, and if their pets test positive they will be placed under mandatory quarantine.
Hong Kong’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was “shocked and concerned” that authorities had decided to kill the animals and urged the government not to take “any drastic action before reviewing its approach.”
While many scientists believe the virus started in animals before making the jump to humans, minks are the only animals that have been proven to have caught the virus from people and spread it back, according to Dr. Scott Weese at the Ontario Veterinary College.
Officials in Beijing recently called for an end to overseas deliveries after traces of COVID-19 were found in the package of an infected woman. Beijing’s Centre for Disease Control said it could not rule out the package as being the source of the woman’s infection and suggested that people only open parcels outside while wearing gloves.