Newsletter No. 221

CUH K Deciphers SARS Virus Sequenc e M embers of a multi-disciplinary team successfully deciphere d o n 16t h April th e genomic sequence s of the virus responsible fo r SAR S fro m a significant part o f the coronavirus genome obtaine d from a SARS patient i n Hong Kong . The t ea m ha s bee n a c t i v e l y investigating th e natur e o f th e vira l agent(s) which may lead to SARS . The y obtained sample s fro m a cohort o f 8 5 SARS patients . A paramyxovirus wa s cultured fro m 2 6 sample s an d a nove l coronavirus i n 14 . Bot h viruse s wer e found i n fou r patients . The effort involves 3 3 academic staf f from the Department of Chemical Pathology, the Department o f Microbiology, an d the Department of Paediatrics. The genomi c sequenc e o f the coronavirus isolated at the Prince of Wales Hospital was then sequenced. It was found to consis t o f 29,73 6 nucleotides . Th e researchers als o identified 1 7 differences between the sequences they obtained and those made available by the CDC and the BC Cance r Agency . Th e Universit y sequencing dat a wer e electronicall y submitted to the WHO Working Group on Aetiology o f SARS an d are available a t The Facult y o f Medicine receive d a donation of HK$300,000 from DBS Bank of Singapor e o n 25t h Apri l fo r furthe r research on SARS . Infection Control Measures Effective in Reducing SARS Risk at PWH Frontline medical workers at the Prince of Wales Hospital attended a discussion on 'SARS : Ar e Healthcare Workers Really at Risk ' on 12t h April i n the Postgraduat e Education Centr e o f the Prince o f Wales Hospital. Figures released during the discussion show tha t th e percentag e o f infecte d doctors afte r th e implementatio n of infection contro l measure s dropped from 75 per cent of the total number of persons infected to 5 per cent, while that of nurses went fro m 7 9 per cen t to 6 per cent , and of other medical staff, from 42 per cent to 4 per cent . The percentage o f househol d member o f staf f infected wen t fro m 5. 5 per cen t t o 0 after infectio n contro l measures were implemented . The speaker s wer e Prof . Sydne y Chung, dea n o f medicine , Prof . Josep h Sung, chairma n o f th e Departmen t o f Medicine an d Therapeutics, Prof . Won g Tz e - wai f r o m th e Departmen t of Community and Family Medicine, and Dr. Louis Cha n fro m th e Departmen t of Obstetrics an d Gynaecology . (From left) Prof. Wong Tze-wai, Prof . Sydney Chung, Prof. Joseph Sung and Dr. Louis Cha n Survey Shows HK Citizens United in Fight Against SARS The School of Public Health conducted six round s o f random sample d telephone survey s between 21st March to 1 St April t o monito r th e drasti c change s in the public's perception, behaviour, and attitude related to SARS . The surve y foun d tha t Hon g Kon g citizens' awarenes s o f good hygiene ha s increased. Almost 9 5 per cen t see mask- wea r i ng a s af u l f i l me n t o f c i v ic responsibility. A n increasin g numbe r believe tha t refrainin g fro m goin g t o crowded places , hospitals , o r mainlan d China would effectively lowe r the chance of infection . Th e majorit y o f citizen s believe tha t th e government' s isolatio n policy i s effective and indicate they would comply wit h th e policy i f they hav e ha d close contact with SARS patients. Only 10 per cent feel there is a very large or large chance fo r them or their famil y member s to contrac t th e disease , while almos t al l believe tha t the disease can be spread by droplets and an increasing number is of the view tha t contact with objects touched by SARS patients can result in infection. The survey als o roun d tha t mor e an d mor e citizens associate public venues with a high chance of contracting the virus. About 8 0 per cent believe the epidemic will las t fo r three month s o r les s an d a n increasin g number think there will be a large outbreak in the community . Prof. Josep h Lau , directo r o f th e Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, commented that most of those interviewed are facing the epidemic i n a rational an d cooperative manner and there is no serious split i n belief and opinion. This , he said , is essentia l an d critica l fo r winnin g th e battle agains t the disease. I C M Develops Chinese Medi c ine Preparation for SAMS Prevention The Institute o f Chinese Medicine (ICM ) o f the University an d Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong) Ltd. will expand the production of an innovative anti-viral traditional Chinese medicine formul a fo r th e benefi t o f the publi c i n th e battle agains t SARS . Thi s i s a university-industry effor t t o exten d the ICM's earlie r initiativ e t o produce preventiv e Chinese medicine fo r frontline hospita l workers . Earlier o n th e ICM manufacture d 42,00 0 sachet s o f th e anti-vira l Chines e medicine granule s fo r free distribution t o frontline healthcar e workers i n the high-risk wards. They were expected to benefit 3,000 workers , mainly from Hospital Authority hospitals. Since the start o f distribution o n 17t h April, th e IC M ha s received man y requests and enquiries from the public . Preparation fo r th e large-scal e productio n o f the herbal sachets has commenced with the initial deliver y of abou t 70,00 0 sachet s fo r th e publi c i n al l E u Yan Sang outlets lat e last month . The anti-vira l formul a wa s develope d by combining two renowned classic herbal formulae, with the addition of other herbs to enhance anti-viral effects. Public Health Campaign on SARS for Schools I n the light of class resumption in local secondary schools, the University has launched an educational campaig n title d 'School s Agains t SARS ' t o bette r equi p schools , parents, an d student s fo r combatin g SARS , t o expres s appreciatio n fo r medica l professionals, and to foster a positive attitude and solidarity among Hong Kong people in their figh t agains t the killer disease . The campaign, officially launched on 14th April, pools medical experts from the CUHK Schoo l of Public Health , the Nethersole School o f Nursing , an d frontlin e medica l practitioners . A n educational vide o focusin g o n preventive measure s agains t SARS especiall y i n th e schoo l settin g an d encouragin g support among the Hong Kong public has also been produced. It was first distributed on the web on 17t h April and then i n the form of VCDs . A pamphlet has also been made available to 1,000,00 0 primary and secondary school students. As par t o f the campaign , a n event named Healthy Campu s Against SAR S was held at Diocesan Girls ' Schoo l in Kowloo n on 26th April. Medica l expert s from the University's Facult y o f Medicine were present to provide the latest information on SARS to teachers, student s and their parents , and to answe r questions . Participant s fro m th e school also shared their experience i n handling problems afte r class resumption . The campaign is sponsored by the Eagle Sta r Insurance Group as part of its Eagl e Star Shine initiative, and is supported by the Education and Manpower Bureau. Technical support for the distribution of the video on the web has been provided by the Hong Kong SchoolNet and Hong Kong EdCity . Mr. Denn y Cha n (left) , Director o f Life Business , Eagle Sta r Insuranc e Group, presentin g a cheque i n support of the 'Schools Against SARS ' Campaign t o Prof . Kennet h Young (right) , pro-vice - chancellor 2 No. 221 4th May 2003