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Hong Kong researchers say they have found evidence that pet hamsters can spread COVID-19 to people, and linked the animals to human infections in the city.

The study, published Saturday in The Lancet as a preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, provided the first documented evidence of hamster-to-human transmission of the delta variant. Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the city’s government found two independent cases of such transmission, after testing viral swabs and blood samples from animals collected from local pet shops.

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