Newsletter No. 224

Exper t Opinio n o nSAR S M edical and other professionals at the University have continued to contribute to the understanding o f SARS prevention and post-SARS recovery i n the local media. In the 24th May 2003 issue o f Ming Pao Daily News, Prof. Sung Yun-wing of the Department o f Economics points out that due t o its dependence on the service industry, Hong Kong's economy suffers more seriously from the effects o f SARS than th e ma i n l and 's ma n u f a c t u r i n g - d om i n a nt economy. He predicts that the local economy w i l l continue to b e affected b y SARS i n th e med i um t o long run. Fo r economic recovery, he suggests the adoption of a life-before- e c o n omy m i n d s et b y t h e g o v e r nme n t, e n h a n c i ng collaboration w i t h mainland medical units, and greater transparency i n government policy. Prof. Terence Chong Tai-leung o f the Department o f Ec o n om i cs ha s made r e c ommenda t i ons o n h o w th e government, political parties, district groups, and social organizations could cooperate t o revive th e Hong Ko ng economy under the SARS epidemic. His suggestions, carried in The Sun o n 8th, 15th, and 29th Ap r il 2003, include using the exchange fund t o bail ou t small businesses, reducing the ho t el r o om t ax , p r o v i d i ng free body checks an d medication t o tourists, and encouraging grown-up children to live away from their parents. A t an interview by RTHK's TV programme Legco Review, broadcast o n 22nd May, Prof. Sydney Chung, dean o f the Faculty o f Medicine, said that t o respond adequately t o emerging epidemics, medical professionals and academics must wo r k closely w i t h governments an d international agencies. H e also said that while the control o f infectious diseases i s th e r e s pon s i b i l i ty o f th e gove r nmen t, th e University's faculty could provide support in research, training o f medical and other professionals, and public education. I n th e 2nd June 2003 issue o f Sing Pao Daily News, Prof. Le e Kam- hon o f the School o f Ho t el and Tourism Management pointed out that Hong Kong must pay attention to four points when trying t o revive it s tourism industry. Ho ng K o ng should come t o a consensus o n th e SARS epidemic w i th other countries through the WHO and use that as the premise fo r it s economic activities. I t should tr y t o alleviate fear o f the disease an d draw u p guidelines f o r i mm i g r a t i on control. I t should also f i nd ou t about th e perceptions and understanding o f SARS risk i n different countries and formulate promotion tactics accordingly. Lastly it should launch large-scale promotional events after th e foregoing three tasks have been accomplished. Survey Calls for Rationality to Counter Misperceptions of SARS Risk H ow do university students from different Chinese cities perceive SARS? T o find ou t Prof. Jia Jianmin o f the Department o f Marketing conducted a survey o n the risk perceptions o f SARS and coping behaviour among 83 7 students f r om u n i v e r s i t i es i n H o n g K o n g , B e i j i n g, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chengdu. The survey aims t o provide insight into crisis management b y comparing th e y o u n g s t e r s' r i s k p e r c e p t i o ns o f S ARS an d t h e i r corresponding coping behaviour. The survey finds that the mainland respondents think o f death, then quarantine, infection, and face masks, a t the mention o f SARS, whereas their Hong Kong counterparts think o f face masks, then medical workers, Amoy Garden, and death. A n overwhelming majority o f respondents from all five cities regard SARS as the number one threat i n the coming year and most tend t o over-estimate the probability o f personal infection and o f dying from it . Female students feel more threatened than their male counterparts. O f al l information o n SARS provided b y th e government, that about new infected cases, new fatalities, and new suspected cases have had the greatest impact o n people's perception o f the disease. The survey also finds that fear o f SARS i s induced b y three major factors: high mortality rate and the disease's highly infectious nature; uncertainties about the incubation period, cause o f the disease, and the effect o f treatment and complications; external factors such as media reports an d the number o f mask wearers. Compared t o th e mainland cities, Hong Kong has the largest proportion o f respondents w i th diminished confidence i n their future and career. Hong Kong also has the highest percentage o f students wearing masks while Chengdu has the most respondents who take Chinese medicine t o prevent SARS. Anti-SARS Act ivi t ies A Quick Run-through • C l i n i c al and Scientific Work • A telemedicine session on SARS was held jointly by the Faculty o f Medicine and Macao Hospital Conde S Januario o n 29th May 2003 t o share i n f o rma t i on o n i n f ec t i on control, c l i n i cal symptoms, and medical treatment. • Commu n i ty Care and Service • Health talks o n anti-SARS measures were given by the Nethersole School o f Nursing t o pre-school educators and parents from Tai Po from 16th t o 21st May 2003; th e talks were filmed b y RTHK and broadcast o n ATV's Home channel o n 1s t June. • Charity event Round-the-CU Walkathon wa s organized o n 18th May b y CUMBA students and the CUMBA Alumni Association t o raise funds t o help distressed families and individuals affected by SARS. •Publications and Research Studies • Steven Riley, e t al . Transmission Dynamics o f Etiological Agent o f SARS i n Hong Kong: Impact of Public Health Interventions', Science, 23rd May 2003. (Co-author from CUHK: Prof. Edith M.C. Lau of th e Department o f Community an d Family Medicine) • A second round o f five telephone surveys were conducted b y the Centre fo r Epidemiology an d Biostatistics i n April and May on 835 Hong Kong residents aged 18 t o 6 0 t o monitor public views on SARS. Corrigendum The following entry carried in the 4th June 2003 issue of the Newsletter should b e revised a s follows: • Christl A Donnelly, e t al. , 'Epidemiological determinants o f spread o f causal agent o f severe acute respiratory syndrome i n Hong Kong', Lancet, 361 (9371): 1761-6, 24th May 2003. (Coauthor from CUHK: Prof. Edith M.C. Lau o f th e Department o f Community and Family Medicine). CUH Kan dLeadin gMainlan d Institution s Joi nForce s t o Researc h int o Terahert z Technolog y T he Un i v e r s i ty signed a collaborative agreement on the research and develop- ment o f t e r ahe r tz t e c h n o l o gy w i t h t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f E l e c t r o n ic Sc i ence an d Technology o f China, and the Electronic an d I n f o rma t i on Science Research Institute i n Shenzhen in May 2003. The project, led by the C U H K Faculty o f Engineering, i s a major collaborative effort on the subject i n China. A t present, the only significant terahertz research teams in Asia are based i n Japan and Korea. Terahertz science and technology can make a significant impact on medicine, engineering, science, and industry i n the coming 2 0 years. Terahertz waves are a form o f electromagnetic wave whose frequency spectrum is sandwiched between those of microwaves and optical waves. O f these three types o f electromagnetic waves, terahertz wave is the least studied and developed, w i th very few related commercial products i n the market. I n the next decade, i t i s anticipated that there w i ll be huge investments worldwide in the research and development o f terahertz science and technology. The faculty and researchers o f the three institutions w i l l conduct research mainly i n H o n g K o n g an d Ch e n g d u, w i t h s y s t em integration and potential product development to take place i n Shenzhen. The i n i t i al phase o f the research w i l l concentrate o n terahertz waves i n medical, engineering, and scientific applications. Unlike X-rays o r ultraviolet light, terahertz radiation is harmless t o many b i o l og i cal cells. This makes i t very useful fo r identifying th e fine details o f or imaging human cells and organs, as well as studying D NA molecules. Terahertz waves can also penetrate many materials, thus p r ov i d i ng a powe r f ul advantage fo r certain r emo te sens i ng a p p l i c a t i o n s. Te r ahe r tz radiation can also be used to study the structure o f materials, t o pe r f o rm environmental an d pollution monitoring, and to provide ultra-wide bandwidth communication. More Support for CUHK Research T he following research projects and conferences involving University staff as principal investigators and coordinators have succeeded i n attracting funding support from different quarters: Designing Athletic and Casual Footwear Based on Functional Testing and Computer Simulation (HK$4,740,000) Sponsor. Innovation and Technology Fund Principal investigator. Prof. Hong Youlian (Department o f Sports Science and Physical Education) School Decentralization and Parental Involvement in Children's Education: A Comparative Case Study (HK$210,000) Sponsor: The Fulbright Hong Ko ng Scholar Programme Principal investigator: Prof. Esther H o Sui-chu (Department o f Educational Administration and Policy) The International Conference on Parallel Algorithms and Computing Environments (HK$100,000) Sponsor: The Croucher Foundation Coordinator. Prof. Zou Jun (Department o f Mathematics) Symposium on Marine Biology and Biotechnology (HK$100,000) Sponsor. The Croucher Foundation Coordinator. Prof. Chu Ka-hou (Department o f B i o l ogy) Advances in Protein Sciences (HK$592,900) Sp o n s o r: The Croucher Foundation Principal investigator. Prof. Shaw Pang-chui (Department o f Biochemistry) 2 No. 224 19th June 2003