Hong Kong has ordered the culling of thousands of hamsters and other small mammals, after a COVID-19 outbreak was linked to a pet store, reports Reuters.
Authorities raided the Little Boss store in Causeway Bay, seizing the animals, while families who had purchased a hamster since December 22 were ordered to hand over their pets for euthanasia.
The decision was announced on Tuesday, after an outbreak of the Delta variant linked to a worker at the store prompted authorities to test hundreds of animals.
Eleven hamsters tested positive, leading officials to believe they could be a case of animal-to-human transmission of COVID.
Interestingly, only hamsters seemed to be affected, with negative results for other animals, including rabbits and chinchillas.
However, as a preventive measure, some 2,000 small mammals spread over 34 different pet shops and animal storage centers in the city must be killed.
A ban on the import and sale of hamsters and other small mammals will also be enacted, agriculture officials said.
Pet owners in the city have also been warned not to “kiss” their pets.
The virus that causes COVID-19 – SARS-CoV-2 – can be caught by animals, including dogs, cats, ferrets and rodents. It is not known, however, how easily animals transmit the infection to humans.
Like mainland China, Hong Kong has maintained a “zero-COVID” strategy focused on eliminating the disease.
[Cover image via Wiki]
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