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Hong Kong wants to euthanize hamsters en masse

The Hong Kong government faced a dilemma Wednesday after its decision to seize hundreds of small company animals after hamsters tested positive for Covid-19 at a city animal farm.

Nearly 2,000 hamsters and other small mammals – chinchillas, rabbits, Indian pigs – will be slaughtered by “precautionary measures”, the government said Tuesday.

The importation of these animals was also banned. This slaughter was ordered after the Covid-19 case appeared in an animal farm. On Tuesday night, employees in protective clothing came out of the store in question, with red garbage bags in their hands marked with a biological danger warning.

Programmed euthanasia

Authorities “strongly encouraged” anyone who bought a small mammal after Dec. 22, or just before Christmas, to bring the animal to them so that it could be euthanized. On Wednesday, in front of a government -run pet center, a man who asked to be identified by his only family name, Hau, told the AFP that his 10 -year -old son was uncomfortable with the idea of ​​losing ” Pudding “, a hamster recently bought. “I don’t have the choice, the government has apparently made it look very serious,” he testified, while showing videos of his son crying in front of Pudding’s pink cage. He was admitted, however, to be concerned for his elderly parents with whom he died.

Animal lovers in Hong Kong did not hesitate to respond with indignation: a petition collected more than 23,000 signatures in less than a day and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) denounced the government decision. “The SPCA is shocked and upset by the recent announcement of the treatment of more than 2,000 animals,” she said in a statement sent to the AFP on Wednesday. “We urge pet owners not to panic and not to abandon their animals.”

A Facebook group gathering hamster lovers said it had received more than 20 requests for information on the question of whether owners should renounce their animals.

The police control the collection points

The Hong Kong government on Friday asked animal friends not to engage in abatement of hundreds of small mammals.

A police van was parked in front of the collection point, Hong Kong television reported Friday. No sanctions are currently being imposed on company animal owners who want to keep their hamsters. Health authorities, however, said Hong Kong had legal means to force people to release the animals.

They were also guarded against an “increased risk” of transmission of the animal virus to humans, after discovering other positive cases of Covid linked to other local animals. The city’s chief microbiologist – who advises the government on Covid – said this massive slaughter was necessary to “prevent a disaster.” “We have reasons to believe that an infestation, in which more than a thousand hamsters have died, is at the origin of (this contamination). The virus could multiply through cross -contamination and spread to animals and other points of sale “, Yuen Kwok-yung wrote in an article on Wednesday.

No evidence of transmission of Covid by animals

Hamsters that tested positive for Covid-19 were actually imported from the Netherlands, according to authorities. “Internationally, there is still no evidence that company animals can transmit the coronavirus to humans, but (…) we are taking precautionary measures” against any risk of transmission, “Sophia said. Chan, Health Secretary, at a press conference.

Hong Kong’s “zero Covid” strategy consists of draconian restrictions on entry into the territory, a crackdown on cases and massive surveillance. This approach has allowed it to maintain a very low level of contamination, but has largely cut off this financial center from the rest of the world.

Individuals refuse to comply

“No one will take my hamster unless they kill me,” an unidentified woman told local media The Standard on January 1 that she bought her animal on January 1. She questioned the government’s decision to massively eradicate the beasts, recalling that several dozen high -ranking Hungarian officials had been sent to camp in early January to participate in a birthday party where two participants tested positive. Covid-19. “If all the people who attended the birthday party are eliminated, I will hand over my hamster to the government”, she launched, asking herself: “is it that they will also kill all the patients infected with the Covid-19 and their relatives? “

Social networks have lashed out at the decision, with netizens publishing illustrations of hamsters wearing surgical masks or confronting La Faucheuse.

Dying without discernment

The city’s largest opposition party said Tuesday night that this policy of “killing without discernment” will only engender “public sentiment.” “If cats, dogs or other animals test positive for coronavirus in the future, will they also be targeted?” Felix Chow, a spokesman for the Democratic Party, wrote on the group’s official Facebook page.

Others were tempting. Renowned microbiologist Yuen Kwok-yung, also a government adviser, described the measure as “decisive” and “prudent.” Asked about the slaughter of hamsters in Hong Kong, the World Health Organization said some animal species could be infected with the coronavirus and transmitted to humans. “This risk remains low, but we are constantly examining it,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, of the OMS.

To read: Animals play no role in the propagation of Covid-19

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