Hong Kong officials order the killing of hamsters and other small animals after a pet shop employee contracted coronavirus

Hong Kong officials will destroy 2,000 hamsters, chinchillas and other small animals after tracing an coronavirus outbreak to an employee at a pet shop where 11 hamsters in the shop tested positive.

Officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said that small animals would be banned from being imported and the sale of hamsters would be forbidden, according to the Associated Press.

Edwin Tsui, a controller at the Centre for Health Protection, explained that officials could not “exclude the possibility that the shopkeeper was in fact actually infected from the hamsters.”

A director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in news conference that hamster owners should not take their pets out of the home, and that they should stop kissing them.

“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,” said Leung Siu-fai.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there is very little chance of humans contracting coronavirus from infected animals.

Officials said that customers who bought animals from the pet store after Jan. 7 would be subject to a mandatory quarantine. Their animals would also be destroyed.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Hong Kong said it was “shocked and concerned” about the decision from health officials to destroy the animals. They also asked the government to not “take any drastic action before reviewing its approach.”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, criticized the reaction by the government in a tweet from his officials account.

“I’m doubtful China can maintain these kinds of extreme measures in pursuit of its zero covid policy,” wrote Gottlieb.

Here’s more about the hamster COVID scare in Hong Kong:

Hong Kong continues to cull hamsters amid COVID-19 scare


Carlos Garcia