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Avellon Williams 

HONG KONG (AP) — “Do not kiss your pets.” This comes following the discovery of approximately  2,000 small animals, including hamsters, which will be destroyed after some of the animals tested positive for Coronavirus at a pet store where an employee also contracted the disease.

Officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department also announced that the city will stop selling hamsters and importing small mammals.

The pet store employee tested positive for the delta variant on Monday, and several hamsters imported from the Netherlands tested positive at the store as well.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that animals are not a significant factor in coronavirus transmission. Hong Kong authorities, however, said they are not ruling out the possibility of human-animal transmission.


“We cannot exclude the possibility that the shopkeeper was in fact actually infected from the hamsters,” said Edwin Tsui, a controller at the Centre for Health Protection.

Leung Siu-fai, department director, said at a news conference that hamsters should be kept at home. It is important for pet owners to maintain good personal hygiene, such as washing their hands after interacting with animals and their food.

“Do not kiss your pets,” he added.

In an effort to avoid a possible outbreak, customers who purchased hamsters from the store after Jan. 7 will be traced, be subject to mandatory quarantine, and will have to surrender their hamsters to authorities for disposal.

Hamster /Courtesy/

The officials said all pet stores in Hong Kong are forbidden from selling hamsters, and 2,000 small mammals, including hamsters and chinchillas, will be killed in a humanely manner.

Buyers who bought hamsters in Hong Kong from Dec. 22 will be required to undergo mandatory testing and are urged not to contact other individuals until their tests are negative. A quarantine period will be imposed on their hamsters if they test positive.

The city of Hong Kong has been stricken with an outbreak of omicron believed to be linked to several Cathay Pacific crew members that dined at bars and restaurants before testing positive for the strain.

Late Monday, the government announced that two former flight attendants had been arrested for leaving their homes during quarantine and later being diagnosed with the Coronavirus infection.

Their employer was not identified, but the report noted they arrived from the U.S. on Dec. 24 and 25 and engaged in “unnecessary activities” while under medical surveillance.

Two former employees arrested /Courtesy/

The arrests came after Cathay Pacific fired two crew members for violating coronavirus protocols . The company previously apologized and said the actions were “extremely disappointing.” Because of tightened virus curbs, the airline had to cut back on passenger and cargo flights in January.

A court date has been set for February 9 for their case to be heard. If found guilty of violating anti-epidemic regulations, they could face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $642.

Hong Kong previously allowed some crew members to isolate themselves at home under quarantine exemptions.

A change in regulations on December 31 mandated that crew members be isolated in a quarantined hotel for one week.

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Avellon Williams