Hong Kong will resume imports of hamsters in January, officials said Thursday, nearly a year after 2,000 of the rodents were slaughtered at the height of the Covid-19 epidemic there.
Only hamsters that test negative for coronavirus can be imported for sale, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation told AFP on Thursday.
Commercial imports of these small mammals were suspended in January 2022 after a pet store employee and nearly a dozen hamsters tested positive for the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
As part of the strict “zero Covid” policy, authorities had also urged hamster owners to hand over their rodents for culling, prompting outcry from animal advocates and many locals.
The measures were taken at the start of a wave of the Omicron variant that killed 9,000 people and gave Hong Kong one of the highest per capita death rates in the world last year, with many elderly people suffering from further refused to be vaccinated.
The government had defended these draconian measures, in particular invoking research according to which hamsters could be infected with the coronavirus and transmit it to human beings.
The suspension of imports, initially relating to all small mammals, was limited in May to hamsters.
Hong Kong's "zero Covid" policy has hit its economy hard, driven residents out of the city and isolated the territory internationally for more than two years.
Hong Kong began easing its health policy at the end of 2022, although some measures remain in place, such as the mandatory wearing of masks indoors and outdoors.
dre without success since the summer, becoming the site of heavy casualties and destruction on both sides.
Before the conflict in Ukraine, Wagner's mercenaries had been seen in Syria, Libya and even in several African countries.
In September, a video was posted on social networks showing a man who strongly resembles Yevgeny Prigojine in the courtyard of a prison, offering inmates to join Ukraine.
“If you arrive in Ukraine and decide it's not for you, we'll consider it desertion and we'll shoot you. Questions, guys?”, launched this man in this video.
He further ordered them not to surrender, stating that recruits would have grenades with them in case of capture. “If you die, your body will be repatriated to the place you wrote on the form,” he said again.
Mr Prigojine's company, Concord, has neither confirmed nor denied that the person speaking in the video was the businessman.
"If I were a prisoner, I would dream of joining this friendly team so that I could not only redeem my debt to the motherland, but also repay it with interest," Concord said, quoting Mr. Prigojine.