Hong Kong's Hamsters: Panic or Precaution?
Updated: Feb 10
It was only two years ago when the first COVID-19 case had been reported in Wuhan, China. Back then, it was breaking news. Now, it’s the new norm. Of course, the voyage through this pandemic hasn’t been easy; children have been orphaned, lives have been disrupted, and travel has been restricted. What has made this virus last so long, is its ability to mutate quickly. It started with the Alpha variant, then Beta, Gamma, Delta, and now Omicron; soon enough we’ll know the whole Greek alphabet!
Recently, there has been a new surge in COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong. Except, this time, it’s among hamsters. What makes this situation worse, is that pet shops have now become coronavirus hotspots for these creatures. I know it sounds silly, right? But this can pose a huge threat. Researchers and scientists have found that these hamsters can actually spread their infection to humans. In fact, it has already happened: Eleven hamsters, a pet owner, and a customer have tested positive for the disease.
To prevent cases from spreading amongst humans any further, the Hong Kong government has issued pet owners who have bought hamsters since the 22nd of December to surrender them to the government. They have also ordered a suspension of the sale of hamsters in pet stores and prohibited importing rodents.
Now, there are around two thousand hamsters that are to be tested and euthanized. It sounds violent at first, a bit too harsh. Why can’t the hamsters just “isolate” like humans are? Well, the world is already suffering, with five COVID-19 variants, it can be a serious health risk if another one arises. Because of this, these animals are to be culled in order to protect the health of humans and other animals.
However, not everyone agrees with this. So, is this panic or a precaution?