Hamsters in Hong Kong are euthanized following pet store owner receives COVID-19 : NPR

The COVID transmission url involving animals and individuals is growing more powerful. In Hong Kong, officers learned a regional pet shop staff was infected with COVID by hamsters in the keep.


Individuals who adore pets may want to consider a tiny break from this story, which lasts about four minutes. The government of Hong Kong is having intense steps to contain an outbreak of the omicron variant. And between individuals measures is euthanizing pets that test optimistic for coronavirus. NPR’s Ari Daniel reviews.

ARI DANIEL, BYLINE: For Kim McCoy, it began one particular afternoon in mid-January.

KIM MCCOY: A lot of persons have been starting to concept me, what is heading on in Hong Kong?

DANIEL: McCoy functions as a personal lawyer, and he established the Hong Kong Animal Law and Protection Business.

MCCOY: I mean, my jaw dropped. What is this plan that the government has commenced?

DANIEL: The plan was the euthanizing of some 2,000 hamsters, animals that both examined constructive for COVID-19 by themselves or that experienced been in get hold of with other folks that had.

MCCOY: It’s just absolutely barbaric and inhumane.

DANIEL: The reason for the cull went again a week previously when a Hong Kong resident came down with COVID. Notably, she had contracted the delta variant, and there hadn’t been a regionally obtained delta an infection in Hong Kong in 3 months. So how had she gotten sick? Turned out she worked at the Tiny Boss pet shop downtown, which elevated the troubling possibility that the animals could have supplied her COVID. Leo Poon, a virologist at The University of Hong Kong, leapt into coordinated action with his lab and the authorities screening a lot of animals for coronavirus.

LEO POON: We screened hundreds of the hamsters and then also rabbits, guinea pig. And then we also went to the warehouse, which supplies the animals to these pet shops.

DANIEL: In a analyze quickly to be published, Poon’s workforce described that just around 50 % of the 28 hamsters analyzed were optimistic for COVID.

POON: The hamster was caught pink-handed.

DANIEL: Soon after sequencing the viral genome, they uncovered that the pet store worker had most likely gotten COVID from the hamsters, which would signify that COVID had jumped from people into hamsters and again once more. We’ve noticed evidence of animal-human transmission in other places. Farmed minks experienced COVID and transmitted it to humans, and a new research exhibits deer could potentially spread COVID back again to men and women. Each individual time a spillover like this happens, it raises the about prospect that the animal – in this case, hamsters – could come to be a reservoir for the coronavirus, one where it could mutate to kind a most likely problematic new variant and then transmit back again to persons.

POON: So which is why we want to stop this transmission chain early.

DANIEL: Therefore, the government’s conclusion to euthanize the hamsters.

POON: I come to feel lousy about it.

DANIEL: Poon was not by itself. In Hong Kong, people today flocked to social media hamster support groups. YouTube videos like this a single surfaced, imploring people today to keep and guard their hamsters.


Unknown Person: (Non-English language spoken).

DANIEL: But not anyone listened. Here’s Kim McCoy all over again.

MCCOY: You have been looking at animals becoming abandoned in parks and on roadsides. Men and women you should not want to get COVID due to the fact, in Hong Kong, at the time you get the disease, you go into these quarantine camps, and they’re completely dreadful.

DANIEL: McCoy tried to just take legal action, but no hamster owner was inclined to arrive forward to start a case.

MCCOY: They didn’t want to be observed to be carrying out something that was totally adverse to the government. That’s a significant issue that we have in Hong Kong for the reason that people today are just so frightened.

DANIEL: Officials keep on being anxious that the global hamster trade may perhaps provide COVID a further route of transmission, but that be concerned is having a backseat as the town scrambles to contain the omicron variant, which is now surging throughout Hong Kong in a gorgeous fifth wave. Ari Daniel, NPR Information.


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