The Strategist

Thousands of hamsters to be killed in Hong Kong over suspected spread of COVID-19

01/19/2022 - 08:38

Hong Kong has decided to euthanize 2,000 hamsters, chinchillas and rabbits after a shop assistant was found to be infected with the Delta coronavirus strain.

Bastian Bodyl
Bastian Bodyl
Authorities in Hong Kong have ordered pet shops and pet owners to hand over about 2,000 hamsters for euthanasia after finding evidence that the coronavirus appears to be able to be transmitted from animal to human. This was reported by the South China Morning Post. The importation of small animals into Hong Kong has been temporarily suspended.

According to Bloomberg, this also applies to chinchillas and rabbits. All owners who have bought the animals since December 22 will have to hand them over, the SCMP said. The paper notes that authorities say the animals will be tested before euthanasia.

The order comes after 11 hamsters tested positive for coronavirus, which were brought from the Netherlands and sold at a local pet shop, Little Boss. All the animals were found to be infected with the Delta strain, which had not been present in the city for several months until COVID-19 was detected in a female employee of the pet shop who did not travel abroad and had no contact with infected animals. 

A customer who had been in contact with her had also contracted the coronavirus, but her daughter had tested negative and the customer's husband had tested preliminarily positive. The virus was also found in the shop's warehouse in another part of the city.

All 34 pet shops that sell hamsters in Hong Kong should close immediately and prepare to test the animals, Bloomberg writes. People who bought hamsters at Little Boss will have to go to a quarantine camp. According to the agency, more than 100 visitors to the shop will be sent to quarantine.