As Hong Kong enters the fifth wave of the pandemic, a 23-year-old saleswoman who worked at the Little Boss pet shop in Causeway Bay was tested positive with the Delta variant of Covid-19. Following that, samples collected from 78 hamsters, chinchillas and rabbits at the pet shop were collected, out of which 11 samples collected from hamsters tested positive for the coronavirus. Results for samples taken from the pet shop's warehouse in Tai Po is underway.
To ensure public safety, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced on January 18 that all imports of small mammals were to be suspended with immediate effect, while all animals from Little Boss and its warehouse in Tai Po would be "humanely dispatched to minimise the potential risks of Covid-19 infection". Authorities have also asked all Hong Kong pet shops selling hamsters to suspend their businesses.
Customers and pet owners who visited the Little Boss shop in Causeway Bay on or after January 7 and tested positive must enter quarantine. The AFCD strongly advise members of the public who have purchased hamsters at any pet shop in Hong Kong on or after December 22, 2021, to undergo testing for the coronavirus and turn in their hamsters to the department. Pet owners whose hamsters test positive must also be isolated as well.
The AFCD also stressed that in no circumstance should pet owners abandon their pets on the streets. Members of the public may call 2691 2269 to make arrangements with the department to take in their hamsters or send their hamsters to the New Territories South Animal Management Centre.
The government's decision to put down thousands of hamsters has caused outrage among many. Animal welfare groups such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals expressed their shock over the mass cull and urged the department to reconsider other methods before taking any drastic action.