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In a follow-up on a recent report of pet store hamsters testing positive for virus that causes COVID-19, a clerk at Little Boss, a pet shop in Causeway Bay, was diagnosed with the new type of pneumonia, and some customers were infected, government officials report (computer translated). The hamster samples in the store also tested positive for the new coronavirus. The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health stated that customers who have purchased hamsters at the store after January 7 will be subject to compulsory quarantine.

Hong Kong/CIA

Food and Health Secretary Chen Zhaoshi said at a briefing today that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department found that a hamster sample was initially positive for the new coronavirus after testing the animals in the store. She held an emergency meeting this morning to work with government experts, food hygiene Personnel from the Bureau, the Center for Health Protection, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department discussed countermeasures.

She pointed out that there is no international evidence that pets can transmit the new coronavirus to humans, but for the sake of prudence, the authorities have taken precautionary measures against any possible transmission routes to minimize the risk of transmission.

Zhang Zhujun, director of the Infectious Diseases Division of the Centre for Health Protection, pointed out that the confirmed female customer is a 67-year-old retiree who lives with four family members in Jiasheng House, Jialong Court, Aberdeen, and has received two doses of the Kexing vaccine. The patient started to have a headache on the 12th of this month, and sought medical treatment from a private doctor. Two days later, he began to cough. He went to St. Paul’s Hospital for medical treatment. The medical staff asked the patient to undergo a test.

The patient’s daughter, who lives with the patient, bought a hamster at Little Boss on the 4th of this month. Four days later, the patient accompanied her daughter to the store to change the pet cage and stayed for 10 to 15 minutes to buy hamster feed. The clerk who was diagnosed earlier served them. Handover, about one meter away.

Zhang Zhujun said that the patient’s daughter is asymptomatic and her family members have been sent to the quarantine center. The patient’s 73-year-old husband developed symptoms yesterday. After being sent to the hospital, the test result was initially positive. The authorities suspected that there was virus transmission in the store on January 8.

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The authorities will trace people who have been in contact with the confirmed shop staff from January 7 to 15, and inform them that they must undergo quarantine. There are about 140 transactions involved.

Xu Lejian, director-general of the Center for Health Protection, said that there are at least two possibilities for the spread of the virus. One is that shop staff and customers are close to each other, and the other is that animals may directly or indirectly infect humans after being infected.

He said that it was reported that the store had imported a batch of hamsters on December 22 last year, and the environmental samples of the company’s transit warehouse tested positive. The CHP requires citizens who have purchased hamsters anywhere in Hong Kong on or after that day to undergo mandatory testing as soon as possible, and submit the hamsters to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for testing. The persons concerned should not go out or participate in gatherings until the test results are available.

If a hamster tests positive for the virus, its owner is subject to compulsory quarantine at a quarantine center.

The government has announced restrictions and testing at Jia Sheng Court , where the confirmed cases live , and will increase the number of mandatory tests for residents of the building or those working in the building.