Hong Kong orders hamster cull after Covid outbreak

Hong Kong orders hamster cull after Covid outbreak

Around 2,000 hamsters and other small mammals seized from Hong Kong pet shops are set to be culled following a Covid outbreak.

Crowds gathered outside the Little Boss pet shop as animals were carried away in boxes, with families who have bought pets there since December 22 reportedly told to hand over their pet for euthanasia.

Unlike many other places, Hong Kong has maintained a “zero Covid” strategy focused on eliminating the disease and after 11 hamsters tested positive following what officials said was an example of animal-to-human Covid transmission.

Only hamsters at the pet shop in Causeway Bay seemed to be affected, with negative results for other animals including rabbits and chinchillas.

But as a “preventative measure”, 2,000 hamsters and other small mammals in the city will be killed. The animals are spread across 34 different pet shops and animal storage centres.

A telephone hamster hotline is being set up, and a ban on the import and sale of hamsters and other small mammals will also be enacted, agriculture officials said.

The virus that causes Covid-19 – Sars-Cov-2 – can be caught by animals including dogs, cats, ferrets and rodents, all commonly kept as pets. But there is no clear evidence that pets can easily pass the infection to humans.

In late 2020, millions of farmed mink in Denmark were culled amid fears around mutations to the virus potentially occurring within the animals.