Hong Kong to euthanize 2,000 small animals over COVID-19 fears

Hong Kong is planning to euthanize roughly 2,000 hamsters and other small animals following a pet store worker and other rodents testing positive for coronavirus.

The city is currently pursuing an uncompromising zero-Covid strategy as the world concludes its second year in the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Hong Kong government made the announcement on Tuesday, which was quickly met with outrage by animal rights advocates and pet owners. Several petitions have circulated the internet, urging Honk Kong authorities to reconsider the policy.

An emerging coronavirus cluster was linked to the Little Boss pet store, where a 23-year-old employee had been confirmed positive for the delta variant earlier this week. A customer who had visited the store and interacted with the employee also tested positive not long after. 

Not only have people tested positive in connection with the pet store, but animals have as well. Officials said on Tuesday that 11 hamsters had tested preliminary positive for Covid, which raised concerns regarding the potential of animal-to-human transmission.

While international health authorities have said the risk of transmission from animals to humans is possible, it is still very low. 

Environmental samples that were taken from the shops warehouse, which contained other species of animals, had confirmed traces of coronavirus as well.

Hamsters at the pet store had been imported from the Netherlands in two groups: one on December 22 and another on January 7. Authorities are requiring all pet stores selling hamsters in the city to hand the animals over to be put down, with orders extending to anyone who bought a hamster in the lead-up to Christmas, starting December 22. 




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