More than 2,500 hamsters and other pets have been “humanely dispatched” after surrendering to Hong Kong authorities in an effort to control the Covid-19 outbreak, the city government has announced.
Officials last week “ordered the killing of hamsters from dozens of pet stores after tracing a coronavirus outbreak on a worker at a store” in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong island, Reuters reported. Anyone who purchases a guinea pig on or after December 22 is required to hand over their new pet, and rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs are also being culled.
‘No evidence’ of pet-to-human transition
As of Saturday, a total of 2,512 animals, including 2,229 hamsters, had been tested for Covid-19 and subsequently had their bodies removed. Authorities say a hamster surrendered by a pet owner has tested positive.
The importation of all small animals into Hong Kong has also been suspended and about 150 customers of the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay have been ordered to quarantine.
The city government will take desperate measures in an effort to prevent the spread of the highly infectious variant of Omicron under tough “zero-Covid” strategy. On Sunday, Hong Kong confirmed 140 new Covid cases – the highest daily number since July 2020.
But while the government is determined to eradicate any livestock that may be infected, “several scientists and veterinary authorities say there is no evidence that animals play a major role in the spread of coronavirus.” in humans,” according to Reuters.
Vanessa Barrs, a professor of companion animal health at the City University of Hong Kong, told CNN “With several hundred million human cases of Covid, we have not seen any pet-to-human transmission.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that “the risk of pets spreading Covid-19 to people is low”.
Private jet for pets
The Hong Kong government’s policy has caused public outcry and a “cat and mouse game” between officials and pet owners, said the statement. Guardians.
This newspaper continues. Some are “offering to hide or adopt dead pets”, as part of “secret” rescue operations.
The Financial Times reported that some frustrated Hong Kongers “leave the increasingly isolated city and charter private jets for their pets – the only way many people can bring their animals with them because of restrictions.” pandemic restrictions squeeze the cargo space on commercial flights”.
According to the article, “people are grouping together to use private jets”, at a cost of around HK$200,000 (£190,000) per owner with their pet.
Pets that were previously culled all over the world
A Vietnamese couple caused a stir around the world last October when 12 of their pet dogs were killed by authorities after the couple tested positive for Covid.
“I don’t want to believe it’s really happening… I can’t do anything to protect my child,” Pham Minh Hung told BBC, referring to his dogs. He and his wife, Nguyen Thi Chi Em, recorded their story on TikTok, describing how they discovered from their hospital bed that their pet had been abandoned.
Online users have described the destruction as “cruel” and “heartbreaking”. But a local official stressed that “the control of the epidemic must be a priority from the very beginning, and the decision to kill the animals immediately was a necessary precaution.”
Local health authorities in China have also been criticized for allegedly “breaking into people’s homes and killing their pets while their owners are under quarantine”. NPR reported in November.
In one case, a dog owner in the northeastern city of Shangrao “witnessed through her home’s security camera when people in hazmat suits entered her home and beat her to death with iron rods.” her corgi while she’s away in the quarantine facility,” the Washington DC-based news site said.
The owner, who tested negative for Covid, posted the footage on the Chinese social network Weibo. After the footage went viral, the local government apologized for “the harmless disposal of a pet dog without adequate communication with the pet owner”.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/society/955503/hong-kong-hamster-cull-pet-euthanasia Why does Hong Kong destroy hamsters and other pets?