9 hamster samples test positive for Covid-19 following gov’t cull of nearly 2,600 small animals

Nine hamster samples taken from close to 2,600 small animals seized by Hong Kong’s animal authorities have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. Visitors to two pet shops in Causeway Bay and Tai Po were required to undergo mandatory virus testing after environmental samples tested positive.

A two-year-old hamster named “Ring” owned by Cheung, a member of an online hamster community who has volunteered to foster abandoned small animals in light of government instructions for pet owners to give up recently purchased hamsters, chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs for culling after hamsters in a pet store tested positive for Covid-19, looks on from a cage in Hong Kong on January 19, 2022. Photo: Bertha Wang/HKFP.

Health authorities suspected the city’s quickly spiralling Covid-19 outbreak may be linked to hamster shipments from the Netherlands carrying the virus, after five women who visited hamster shops or purchased hamsters between January 4 and 11 became infected.

The World Health Organization has said the risk of animal-to-human transmission is low, whilst low authorities have cited the need to protect public health.


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