The Chinese authorities in Hong Kong said the hamsters may have infected a pet shop worker with COVID-19 and they too must die.
The Authorities ordered the killing of the 2,000 hamsters and other small rodent pets after health officials said they may be responsible for COVID-19 infection.
Eleven samples from hamsters at the pet shop tested positive for the Delta variant of COVID-19.
And the officials were suspicious after a worker at the pet shop tested positive for COVID-19.
While authorities agreed on Tuesday that there is no evidence that pets can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus to humans, customers who visited the store after January 7 will be quarantined.
Pet owners who purchased hamsters after December 22 were asked to turn them in to authorities to get them tested for the virus.
The owners will be placed in quarantine if the animals test positive.
The hamster will be put down regardless of the test results.
All hamster-selling establishments were likewise required to close their doors.
However, health authorities believe “it’s very likely that the transmission this time is from animals to humans.”
Genome sequencing of the virus found in the animals, imported from the Netherlands, shows it is the same as the virus present in the pet shop worker.
“We don’t want to cull all the animals,” conservation official Thomas Sit told reporters.
“But we need to protect public health and animal health. We have no choice. We have to make a firm decision.”
It’s the latest dramatic measure Chinese authorities in Hong Kong have taken as part of the city’s “zero COVID” approach.
This isn’t the first time Hong Kong has linked a COVID-19 infection in a human to a pet.
A 17-year-old Pomeranian tested positive with the virus at the start of the pandemic in 2020. In that case, though, health officials determined that the dog got the virus from its owner.
Some residents of the city rushed to Twitter to express their displeasure with the hamsters’ mass slaughter, as well as the government’s vow to treat them “humanely.”