Hong Kong will finish a year-long ban on importing hamsters because the area unwinds its strict COVID-19 insurance policies.
“Our workers will prepare to gather samples from hamsters and different small mammals for COVID-19 testing,” a spokesperson for the town’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) instructed the BBC. “They can solely be offered if the take a look at outcomes are detrimental.”
Hong Kong banned the import of hamsters after officers traced an outbreak of the Delta variant final yr to a pet store worker. Officials discovered 11 hamsters imported from the Netherlands carried the virus, resulting in a cull of round 2,000 animals to cease the virus spreading amid concern of animal-to-human transmission.
Studies discovered that rodents, together with mink and hamsters, may carry the coronavirus. Six international locations, together with the U.S., Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Sweden, famous the presence of the virus amongst mink populations, prompting the cull of lots of of hundreds of mink in 2020.
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Denmark, the world’s largest mink fur producer, needed to cull 17 million mink alone in November 2020.
Vanessa Barrs, a professor of companion animal well being on the City University of Hong Kong, instructed the BBC that subsequent testing confirmed that the virus had transferred from hamsters to people, forcing the federal government to behave “out of an abundance of warning at the moment.”
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A petition on the time did not dissuade the federal government from following via on the cull, prompting outrage amongst animal lovers and lots of native residents.
One pet store proprietor famous that the shortage of hamsters hit gross sales exhausting because the animals show extremely widespread amongst kids.
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Hamsters made up round 20% of the store’s income, and the shopkeeper revealed that she already had an inventory of round a dozen folks – primarily kids – already seeking to purchase hamsters as quickly as they’re out there.
The newest threat evaluation issued Thursday decided that the industrial import of hamsters can be acceptable and will begin mid-January.
Hong Kong, whereas a part of China, holds a novel standing as a “particular administrative area,” one among two — together with Macau — that enable the best diploma of autonomy inside China and for the areas to set their very own restrictions associated to COVID-19.
Hong Kong dropped nearly all COVID-related restrictions final month following the same determination on mainland China. Beijing’s “zero-COVID” coverage may need appeared a lightweight contact in comparison with Hong Kong’s restrictions, which included a seven-hour airport screening for returning residents and rigorous follow-up checks for testing.
But with the rollback of the strict measures, Hong Kong has seen its demise price skyrocket, hitting a weekly common of round 9 deaths per million – a price almost six occasions that of the U.S., in accordance with Quartz.
Reuters contributed to this report.