Listen Live

HONG KONG – Authorities in Hong Kong said Tuesday they plan to kill about 2,000 small animals after hamsters tested positive for COVID-19 at a pet store.

>> Read more trending news

An employee at the pet store also tested positive for the delta variant, as did several hamsters that were imported from the Netherlands, The Associated Press reported.

Hong Kong to kill 2,000 small animals in COVID-19 outbreak

Staff members from Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department investigate in a pet shop closed after some pet hamsters tested positive for the coronavirus, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

Authorities in Hong Kong also said sales of hamsters and imports of small animals will be stopped, and customers who bought hamsters in the city since Dec. 22 will be subject to mandatory testing, the AP reported.

Authorities have also warned people not to kiss pets. Leung Sui-fai Leung, director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said, “Pet owners should keep a good hygiene practice, including washing hands after touching the animals, handling their food or other items, and avoid kissing the animals,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said animals do not appear to play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19, but Hong Kong authorities said they are not ruling out the potential for transmission between humans and animals, the AP reported.

Hong Kong has a “zero-Covid” strategy that focuses on eliminating the disease, which requires the animals to be killed, the BBC reported. Hong Kong authorities have also set up a telephone “hamster hotline” for questions, the network reported.

More coronavirus pandemic coverage:

>> Coronavirus: How long between exposure to the virus and the start of symptoms?

>> What are your chances of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19? This tool will tell you

>> How to not let coronavirus pandemic fatigue set in, battle back if it does