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One Hamster Tests Positive After 2,500 Pets Culled In Hong Kong

by : Cameron Frew on :
One Hamster Tests Positive After 2,500 Pets Culled In Hong Kong
One Hamster Tests Positive After 2,500 Pets Culled In Hong Kong (Alamy)

After more than 2,500 hamsters were culled in Hong Kong, a single hamster has tested positive for COVID-19.

Earlier this week, officials in the Southeast Asian region asked residents to surrender any hamsters purchased in the past four weeks, after an outbreak of coronavirus was traced back to a pet shop worker in the city.

Eleven hamsters, which were sold at a local pet store called Little Boss, ended up testing positive, as well as an employee and a 67-year-old customer, with traces of COVID also found at an off-site warehouse. All of the hamsters that were infected were imported from the Netherlands.

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The Little Boss store has been shut. (Alamy)
The Little Boss store has been shut. (Alamy)

As of yesterday, January 22, a total of 2,512 animals, including 2,229 hamsters, have been 'humanely dispatched' in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, the government said in a statement, as per The Independent. While past hamsters were infected in the pet shop, just one animal in an owner's care has tested positive for the virus.

Animal rights campaigners and pet owners criticised the government's harsh measures, but amid thousands offering to adopt any hamsters being 'surrendered', the police have warned people not to refuse giving up their hamsters or offer shelter to abandoned animals that would otherwise be killed.

Thousands of hamsters have been culled. (Pexels)
Thousands of hamsters have been culled. (Pexels)
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'From a veterinary and animal welfare perspective, it would be preferable to try to save the lives of those hamsters, [but] I am afraid it may not be doable. This is a super harsh measure, but if you are following a zero COVID policy, that is why tolerance is very, very low,' said Professor Nikolaus Osterrieder, dean of the college of veterinary medicine and life sciences at City University.

'[The government] strongly advises members of the public again to surrender... as soon as possible their hamsters purchased in local pet shops on or after 22 December 2021 for humane dispatch,' the government statement added.

'If the people concerned continue with such action, or fail to return the hamsters taken away, [the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department] will stringently follow up and hand it over to the police for handling,' the government body also said.

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As well as Hong Kong officials describing the outcry over the cull as 'irrational', the region's leader Carrie Lam said while it was understandable people would be unhappy, it's necessary to control the outbreak, in keeping with Hong Kong's 'zero COVID' strategy.

'I understand that pet owners are unhappy... the biggest public interest is to control the pandemic,' she said.

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: News, China, Animals