Hong Kong’s hamster cull and why animal lovers are up in arms

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Authorities have mentioned they are going to kill about 2,000 small animals, together with hamsters, after a number of examined optimistic for coronavirus at a pet retailer the place an worker was additionally contaminated

A two-year-old hamster named “Ring” owned by Cheung, a member of a web based hamster group who has volunteered to foster deserted small animals in mild of presidency directions for pet house owners to surrender lately bought hamsters, chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs for culling after hamsters in a pet retailer examined optimistic for COVID-19, is fed by its proprietor in Hong Kong. AFP

Hong Kong authorities have been doing all they’ll to of their pursuit of the zero-COVID technique together with what some are calling ‘Nice Hamster Bloodbath’.

On 18 January, authorities introduced that they’d kill about 2,000 small animals, together with hamsters, after a number of examined optimistic for coronavirus at a pet retailer the place an worker was additionally contaminated.

The Related Press report acknowledged that town may also cease the sale of hamsters and the import of small mammals. The pet store worker examined optimistic for the Delta variant on 17 January, and a number of other hamsters imported from the Netherlands on the retailer examined optimistic as properly.

The transfer has fairly clearly evoked sturdy reactions with many asking for a rethink on the choice, whereas some others have employed personal jets to take their pet hamsters out of Hong Kong and a few Samaritans have reportedly volunteered to undertake hamsters from pet outlets in a bid to avoid wasting them from their grim destiny.

Let’s take a better have a look at the state of affairs:

Hamster cull

Hong Kong has been strongly adhering to China’s ‘zero-COVID’ coverage and the current announcement of the cull comes as a part of this technique.

The transfer got here following the report that hamsters bought on the Little Boss pet store, in addition to an worker, examined optimistic for the Delta variant — now uncommon in Hong Kong.

Explained Hong Kongs hamster cull and why animal lovers are up in arms

Workers members from Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Division examine in a pet store closed after some pet hamsters authorities mentioned, examined optimistic for the coronavirus, in Hong Kong. AP

Well being secretary Sophia Chan was quoted by information company Agence France Presse as saying, “Internationally, there isn’t a proof but to indicate pets can transmit the coronavirus to people, however… we’ll take precautionary measures in opposition to any vector of transmission.”

Strict guidelines have been laid out for hamster house owners.

As an example, Leung Siu-fai, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Division, mentioned throughout a information convention that house owners ought to preserve hamsters at dwelling, and never take them out. “All pet house owners ought to observe good private hygiene, and after you have got been involved with animals and their meals, you must wash your fingers,” he mentioned.

“Don’t kiss your pets,” he added.

Furthermore, clients who purchased hamsters in Hong Kong from 22 December, 2021, could be topic to obligatory testing and are urged not contact others till their checks have returned destructive. If their hamsters take a look at optimistic, they are going to be topic to quarantine.

Animal lovers outraged

The choice by the Hong Kong authorities has angered hamster house owners and animal lovers.

Explained Hong Kongs hamster cull and why animal lovers are up in arms

A hamster lover holds on to the small animal as Hong Kong orders a cull of them. AFP

Hamster lovers initiated a Change.org petition, which garnered greater than 23,000 signatures in lower than a day, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) denounced the choice.

“The SPCA is shocked and anxious over the current announcement in regards to the dealing with of over 2,000 animals,” it mentioned in an announcement despatched to AFP.

One hamster proprietor, in an AFP report was quoted as saying, “Nobody can take my hamster away except they kill me. Will in addition they kill all contaminated COVID-19 sufferers and their shut contacts?”

Defending the cull

Deputy agriculture chief Thomas Sit defended the cull as a precautionary measure when requested why the choice was made with no clear scientific foundation.

The cull additionally discovered help from prime microbiologist and authorities advisor Yuen Kwok-yung, who mentioned the transfer was “decisive” and “prudent”.

Yuen mentioned the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Division didn’t hav-e sufficient employees to quarantine hamsters and take a look at them every day, “so they’d no alternative however to make such an unpopular choice”.

However can animals really transmit the virus?

The cull has as soon as once more raised the query if animals are vulnerable to being contaminated by COVID and may they transmit the virus.

Until date, there have been reviews of pet dogs, cats, ferrets, animals in zoos and sanctuaries, minks and hyenas amongst some others testing optimistic for COVID-19.

The World Well being Group mentioned some animal species will be contaminated with the coronavirus, and animals can re-infect people.

“That threat stays low however it’s one thing that we’re continually ,” mentioned the WHO’s Maria Van Kerkhove.

Of seven million virus sequences submitted to world platforms, round 1,500 are from animals.

Van Kerkhove mentioned higher surveillance was wanted to find out not solely which animals had been inclined but in addition to grasp the extent of infections in animals and monitor the virus in animals over time to see what threat it posed.

With inputs from companies

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