Hong Kong to Cull More Than 2,000 Hamsters After Pet Store COVID-19 Outbreak
Eleven of the store's hamsters were found to have the virus after an employee and customer at the Hong Kong shop tested positive.
Hong Kong will also impose a ban of import of hamsters after a pet shop worker, a customer and at least 11 hamsters tested positive for the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus, The New York Times said.
“Evidence shows that the hamsters are infected with the COVID-19 virus. It is impossible to quarantine and observe each of them and their incubation period could be long,” Leung Siu-fai, the director of Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said in a statement about the government’s decision.
Officials added that it is unclear if the virus spread from humans to imported hamsters or vice versa, The New York Times added.
“They’re excreting the virus, and the virus can infect other animals, other hamsters and also human beings,” said Thomas Sit, assistant director of Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation department. “We don’t want to cull all the animals, but we have to protect public health and animal health. We have no choice — we have to make a firm decision.”
The hamsters reportedly came from the Netherlands and were traced to Hong Kong’s Little Boss pet store, according to the New York Post.
The infected small animals were among two groups of hamsters that arrived in Hong Kong on Dec. 22, 2021 and Jan. 7, 2022. Buyers of hamsters after Dec. 22 were instructed to hand the pets over to authorities, according to the New York Post.
All of the hamsters in Hong Kong’s 34 licensed pet stores will be seized and tested by the government.
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