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Hong Kong has ordered hundreds of hamsters be surrendered for “disposal” after traces of Covid-19 have been discovered on 11 animals in a pet store.

The order contains pets that have been purchased days earlier than Christmas be handed over, with a warning to not “kiss or abandon them on the road” as Hong Kong and mainland China try and maintain a zero Covid technique, trying to suppress all outbreaks internally whereas sustaining tight border controls with the surface world.

Authorities introduced on Tuesday that traces of the virus have been detected on 11 hamsters out of 178 hamsters, rabbits and chinchillas examined on the Little Boss pet store and related warehouse in Causeway Bay whereas investigating town’s first untraceable Delta variant analysis in additional than three months, in a 23-year-old retailer worker.

Two workers have been additionally confirmed to have the illness, together with one who cleans out the animal cages and handles the hamsters.

In response, they ordered the speedy suspension of hamster gross sales and imports of all rodents. An estimated 2,000 hamsters, together with any purchased since 22 December, should be handed over, native media reported, and the homeowners should report for testing.

Hong Kong’s well being secretary, Sophia Chan, conceded there was no proof home animals can move the illness to people, however authorities have been appearing out of warning.

“We’ve assessed the dangers of those batches are comparatively excessive and subsequently made the choice primarily based on public well being wants,” the director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation, Dr Leung Siu-fai, stated. “We urge all pet homeowners to watch strict hygiene when dealing with their pets and cages. Don’t kiss or abandon them on the streets.”

All animals taken from the Causeway Bay store could be handled “humanely”, authorities stated.

Louis Yeung, on the Chinchilla and Pets store on Hong Kong island, stated he had about 20 hamsters in inventory and was ready for directions.

“A person known as me and requested my telephone quantity and stated he’ll ship a message to me, however thus far I don’t have any data from [the government],” he instructed the Guardian. “We simply comply with the federal government directions. There’s nothing to do, fear or not fear. In the event that they determine one thing we should do it.”

Leung stated he was stunned to listen to hamsters may get contaminated and was additionally nervous by stories of virus transmission on meals packaging.

“I don’t actually perceive what we must always do. I don’t actually know if the human takes this [virus] to a hamster or the hamster takes this to the human.”

The imported hamster idea comes a day after Chinese language authorities, who’re equally battling outbreaks whereas pursuing a zero Covid technique, blamed an untraceable case of the Omicron variant in Beijing on a package sent from Canada, by way of the US and Hong Kong.

Whereas the worldwide science neighborhood is sceptical on the probability of Covid-19 spreading by worldwide mail, no less than on the frequency it’s reported in China, Beijing authorities stated testing had discovered traces of the virus on the inside and outside of the bundle.

There have been earlier circumstances of animal an infection, together with a number of pets in Hong Kong, over the course of the pandemic. In 2020, Denmark culled its total inhabitants of 15 million minks after some have been discovered to be carrying a mutated variant of Covid-19.

It additionally banned mink breeding till this month. A number of thousand carcasses that had been rapidly buried in West Jutland began rising out of the earth months later, prompting alarm and a police operation to rebury the animals on the macabre scene.

It seems it was identified hamsters might be contaminated with the illness – a Might 2020 examine by main Hong Kong infectious illness consultants used the animals to determine the effectiveness of mask-wearing, by lining some hamster cages with them and measuring the transmission between contaminated animals and their well being neighbours.

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