The Hong Kong government has ordered a cull of 2,000 hamsters after detecting COVID-19 in several for sale at the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay.
A 23-year-old female employee who worked at the Little Boss pet tested positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19 on Sunday which prompted authorities to launch an investigation.
Hong Kong health authorities have tested animals including rabbits and chinchillas, but only the hamsters have tested positive.
A 67-year-old woman, who had visited Little Boss on January 8, was also infected.
Leung Siu-fai, the director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said that two shipments of hamsters imported from the Netherlands on December 22 and January 7 were suspected to be infected by COVID-19 and could be the cause of the Delta outbreak.
Leung said that the animals would have to be culled to prevent possible outbreaks but there has been no data yet if there was an animal-to-human COVID transmission.
“Pet owners should keep a good hygiene practice, including washing hands after touching the animals, handling their food or other items, and avoid kissing the animals,” added Leung.
Hong Kong Health Secretary Sophia Chan said there was no evidence domestic animals can pass the disease to humans and that the cull was a precautionary measure.
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