Coronavirus chief in Hong Kong warns: ‘Don’t kiss your pets’

Coronavirus chief in Hong Kong warns: ‘Don’t kiss your pets’

A coronavirus expert in Hong Kong doesn’t want people to kiss their pets after small animals tested positive for coronavirus.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong authorities said that they would cull around 2,000 small animals, including hamsters and chinchillas, after many of them received a positive Covid result at a pet store that an employee with an infection worked at.

According to officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, the city would also ban the selling of hamsters and the import of smaller mammals.

The decision was made after the pet store employee tested positive for the delta strain of Covid on Monday. Other hamsters imported from the Netherlands also tested positive at the same retailer.

Department director Leung Siu-fai said that people who own hamsters should keep them at home and refrain from taking them out.

“All pet owners should observe good personal hygiene, and after you have been in contact with animals and their food, you should wash your hands.

“Do not kiss your pets,” he said at a news conference.

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Despite there being “no evidence” that pets can transmit the coronavirus to people, clients who purchased hamsters from the compromised business after January 7 will be traced and subjected to obligatory quarantine as a precaution.

They must also surrender their hamsters to officials, who will put them down.

Authorities further said that all pet stores selling hamsters in Hong Kong must cease operations and that small animals will be culled humanely.

Other customers who bought hamsters in Hong Kong starting from December 22 will also be subjected to enforced testing and recommended not to go back out into the community until a negative test result is negative. And if these owners’ hamsters are positive, they will face quarantine.

As of now, authorities note that they won’t rule out the transmission of the virus between animals and people.

On another occasion, two former flight attendants from the US were arrested by Hong Kong police for allegedly leaving their residences when they were supposed to be in isolation for probable coronavirus illnesses, which were later discovered.

The two attendants arrived on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. When they were medical surveilled, they had “conducted unnecessary activities,” a government statement said in a posted statement late Monday.

While their company was not named in the announcement, the arrests came after Cathay Pacific announced that two crew members had been discharged for violating coronavirus rules. Both were later found to have the omicron variant.

Cathay also apologised for the crew’s behaviour.

The pair have been released on bail, and their case will be heard in court on February 9. They might face up to 6 months in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($642) if found guilty of violating anti-epidemic provisions.

Hong Kong has been dealing with a local omicron outbreak that has been connected to many Cathay Pacific crew members who visited bars and restaurants throughout the city before testing positive for the variant.

Certain air and marine crew employees may previously isolate at home in Hong Kong due to quarantine exemptions.

Regulations enforced on December 31 compel crew members to isolate for approximately a week in an authorized quarantine hotel to protect the public’s health.

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