City University of Hong KongSustained efforts to combat Covid-19

Sustained efforts to combat Covid-19

Researchers at CityU are tackling the enormous public health challenges emerging from the pandemic by contributing home-grown technologies and insights. Our interdisciplinary teams are generating applicable research for addressing related global concerns and enhancing public awareness about well-being.

Bioaerosol project for Covid-19 secures HK$6.15m from Research Impact Fund

Bioaerosols are very small airborne particles containing living organisms that might be one of the possible routes for spreading Covid-19. A bioaerosols research project aimed at developing innovative methods for detecting and disinfecting bacteria and viruses including SARS-CoV-2 in indoor environments led by CityU has secured HK$ 6.15 million from the Research Impact Fund under the Research Grants Council.

According to project coordinator Professor Alvin Lai Chi-keung, Associate Head of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, the study addresses an urgent need in Hong Kong and globally to rapidly detect and eliminate pathogens, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, in indoor air. This 4-year research project is titled “Rapid Detection and Synergetic Disinfection of Bioaerosols Using Far UVC and Negative Air Ions: Mechanistic and Field Studies”.

The team will couple advanced aerosol technology with molecular biology techniques such as nucleic acid-based methods to enable faster and more accurate detection of targeted microorganisms. Nucleic acid-based methods are now used for testing humans, but the team will use them to analyse air samples. These new methods will be deployed to profile the bioaerosol composition in indoor settings in Hong Kong.

Other team members include Professor Chan Chak-keung, Dean and Chair Professor of the School of Energy and Environment (SEE). and Dr Patrick Lee Kwan-hon, Associate Dean and Associate Professor of SEE.

(From left) Dr Patrick Lee Kwan-hon, Professor Alvin Lai Chi-keung and Professor Chan Chak-keung.

Testing at-risk people more precisely after border reopens – CityU study

Dr Sean Yuan Hsiang-yu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, has developed the first mathematical model to take into account variation in confirmation delay. His findings can render quantifying the impacts of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as gathering bans more accurate. This new approach may help guide public health policies on outbreak control, especially after the border reopens.

This latest project led by Dr Yuan represents the first known systematic prediction study in the academia using observational data about confirmation delay (also called containment delay) from a real-world outbreak. The paper “The impact of multiple non-pharmaceutical interventions on controlling COVID-19 outbreak without lockdown in Hong Kong: a modelling study” has been accepted by the world-renowned scientific journal The Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific and supported by the Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study as well as the Health and Medical Research Fund.


Dr Sean Yuan Hsiang-yu

New fast-track ventilation system for filtering Covid-19

A new ventilation system developed by Dr Steven Wang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, can thoroughly filter viral particles and quickly stop the spread of Covid-19 in the air, and at low cost. The fast-track ventilation system is easy to install and can be used in high-risk places such as hospitals and washrooms.

The enclosed ventilation system has a pipe frame made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) with extraction ports. The system is equipped with a transparent PVC hood and high efficiency particulate air filters, and can be placed at hospital beds to protect healthcare workers.

The results of trials held at Gleneagles Hospital Hong Kong since August indicate that the system, under review for a US patent, effectively stops viruses from spreading through aerosol transmission.

Dr Steven Wang

Expert advocates Covid-19 vaccination

Professor Nikolaus Osterrieder, Dean of the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, emphasised the need for vaccinations if we are to reach herd immunity at an online talk titled “Covid-19 Vaccination - A One Health No-Brainer” in June 2021.

Vaccination hesitancy must be overcome if people’s lives were to return to normal otherwise the current social restrictions and economic impacts would continue for months, he said.

He added that the situation in countries like Brazil, India and Vietnam was worrying and new variants posed fresh risks. Herd immunity was ultimately the only way to reduce the massive burden on society and the economy that Covid-19 has wrought.

Professor Nikolaus Osterrieder

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