Hong Kong and mainland China are some of the few remaining regions adopting a zero-COVID-19 stance.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong officials announced the culling of 2,000 small animals, including hamsters and rabbits, suspected of being infected with COVID-19 and passing it to humans after being imported from the Netherlands.
This has caused heated debate, with some people supporting the cull and others against it. The lifespan of a hamster is around two years.
They also arrested two flight attendants who breached the city’s COVID-19 regulations. Now the two face up to six months in prison and a HK$5,000 fine.
On Wednesday, after the government announced the culling of 2,000 small animals, health workers were seen in hazmat suits walking out of pet shops around the city carrying red plastic bags into their vans, while around 150 pet shop customers were sent into quarantine camps.
With that, on Telegram, there is a group called “Hong Kong the Cute Hamster Group,” and the admin of the group, Ocean, said that she was contacted by nearly 3,000 people saying they would help look after unwanted animals for a while.
Bowie, 27, one of those who volunteered in the group, is now the owner of two new hamsters.
“This is ridiculous,” said Bowie, who already owned three other hamsters. “Animals’ life is also life. Today it can be hamsters or rabbits, tomorrow it can be cats or dogs.”
What’s been said?
“Internationally there hasn’t been evidence pets can pass on COVID to humans,” said Sophia Chan, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health, at a news briefing on Tuesday. “To be prudent, we will take preventive actions against all possible routes of transmissions that can’t be ruled out to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Some scientists around the world have said that there’s still no strong evidence between animal and human transmission.
Vanessa Barrs, professor of companion animal health at the City University of Hong Kong, said culling the ones up for sale made sense to protect public health, but home-infection concerns and fears didn’t.
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