Health workers in Hong Kong entered pet shops on Wednesday to kill hamsters over unproven COVID-19 fears. Human coronavirus cases were linked back to a pet shop worker, which led to different animals at the shop being tested for coronavirus.
After eleven hamsters tested positive for COVID-19, the Hong Kong government decided to kill around 2,000 hamsters in 34 pet shops and storage facilities.
Scientists worldwide and Hong Kong health and veterinary authorities have said there was no evidence that animals play a significant role in human contagion with COVID-19.
A Dutch study, published in July last year, proved that pets often get COVID-19 from their bosses, but there has been no evidence of pets giving the virus to humans.
But since Hong Kong has a strict zero-tolerance for COVID-19, the government still decided to proceed with killing the hamsters. Workers in protective suits entered pet shops to kill the animals.
Besides killing animals, authorities asked dozens of pet shops to close, and imports and sales of small animals have been suspended.
Residents in the Mong Kok neighbourhood questioned the government’s actions. “I think it’s unethical, and it’s not right to kill just all the hamsters,” 18-year-old graduate Jack Ng said.
“It’s not like every small animal is going to be infected, right. And they all have their own life,” said 27-year-old beautician May Chong. “So I think it is really brutal and sad.”
The government’s decision has also scared hamster owners, with some panicking and wanting to dump their pets. Animal lovers in Hong Kong have volunteered to take in the hamsters of people who want to get rid of them.
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