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By: REN Ziyi DavidEdited by: WANG Yichun

Culture & Leisure

Wong Tai sin temple Lantern festival fair reopens after a one-year suspension

The lanterns temple fair in Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple embraces the peak of visitors on the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrating the temple’s 100th anniversary at the same time. Due to the increasing visitors, the fair closed in advance for an hour and a half from the original closing time, while citizens reveal satisfaction as well as complaints about the management.  

Society

Parents Happy to See Schools Return to Full Capacity

  All local schools and kindergartens returned to face-to-face teaching today for the first time in six months after the relaxation of Covid pandemic restrictions.  Classes are at full capacity on a half-day basis. “I am happy to have my kid back to school,” said Manto Hong, a 43 year-old father with a daughter at a primary school in Kowloon Tong. Mr Hong said he wishes the schools could be allowed to open up longer. “She will be able to meet more friends,” he said. “Learning in the classroom might be more effective.” Kelley Mang, a 42 year-old mother with two daughters studying in a primary school in Kowloon Tong, said full-time school might not be a good idea right now since the vaccination rate is too low. “It is good to send my kids back to school,” she said. “I am still a little bit worried about the close contact problem.”  The Hong Kong government is considering expanding vaccine eligibility, following the US decision last week to open up Pfizer-BioNtech shots to age 12 and up. The number of fully vaccinated Hongkongers is close to 900,000, or 12% of the population. 

HKBU Students Worry University to Follow CUHK and HKU in Requiring Vaccination for Hall Residents

  • 2021-05-21

  Hong Kong Baptist University students are concerned the school will follow the Chinese University of Hong Kong, The University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University in requiring vaccinations for hall residents. Many HKBU students are opposed to the policy and cautious about the vaccines. “I don’t agree with the compulsory vaccination for residents since it is a personal right for everyone to choose whether to get jabs or not. I would rather give up living in the hall if my university requires me to do so,” said Kwok Yuk-kit, 21, an HKBU business student who lives in the hall. “I am against such policy. Living in halls and attending universities are free for students to choose. Right now getting vaccinated is not necessary in Hong Kong, the infected case is very stable. I have lived in the hall since the outbreak of the pandemic, but I am still healthy and safe. Meanwhile, no hall resident is reported infected,” said Emily Ling, 22, a business student and hall tutor. The University of Science and Technology will require vaccinations or testing of all students and staff, not just hall residents. “As for (universities) requiring residents to get jabs, it is even more unreasonable. But if the hall could test each resident before check-in, that would be more acceptable,”said Li King-sang, 23, a business student at HKBU. HKBU saw 15 covid-19 cases on campus since September, in some cases causing classmates to be sent to government quarantine centres. “Getting all the residents vaccinated is not going to largely enhance our protection against the virus. The pandemic has been more than a year now, but no infection case is discovered in the hall,” said Ms Li.  Vaccination rates remain low in Hong Kong. The government extended vaccine eligibility for the BioNtech vaccine to …

Poly University Makes Contribution to China’s First Mars Landing

  • 2021-05-21

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University analysed the topography of the landing area and provided the Mars Landing Surveillance Camera for China's Tianwen-1 Mars exploration mission, two professors said in a press conference today. “We evaluated the elevation and the slope of the selected landing area,” Bo Wu, the Associate Head of the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Information, said at the press conference. His team used AI-based deep learning to extract and analyze the density of craters and rocks. “Two million rocks and 670,000 craters were picked for density analysis,” he said, “to guarantee the safety of landing.” Chair Professor of Precision K.L. Yung said he designed the surveillance camera to ensure the landing is smooth. The camera, which weighs 390 grammes, can bear an impact of 6,200g and work under -70 degrees celsius, he said. “The temperature on Mars is low, which has different requirements on the camera compared to the normal ones,” said Prof Yung. He said he had to guarantee that the quality of pictures captured by the surveillance camera remains high regardless of the environment, which is challenging. “The biggest difficulty is that we don’t have our own data like the US or Europe, and the time is tight,” Prof Wu said. “We only have one and a half months to analyze the images sent from Beijing.” 

Health & Environment

Hospital Authority: Vaccines Prevent COVID Variations; Recovered Only Need One Jab

Both BioNTech and CoronaVac vaccines reduce the risk of infection from the British and South African variants, though the effectiveness is lower, the Hospital Authority said at a press conference today. The efficacy of BioNTech against the British variant is 89.5% while the one against the South African counterpart is 75%, according to Qatar research. CoronaVac, the Chinese-made vaccine also known as Sinovac, which is around 50% effective according to some tests in Brazil, is only 30% effective against the South African virus variant, said Dr Owen Tsang, the Medical Director of the Hospital Authority Infectious Disease Centre. “Sinovac is just so-so in dealing with the South African virus,”  he said, “but getting vaccinated would definitely be protective.” No data is currently available to show the effectiveness of the vaccines against the Indian variant, which has been discovered in more than 17 countries. “Since the variant is relatively new, many clinical manifestations are not clear,” said Dr Tsang. Dr Tsang also said that natural infection could prevent reinfection at 84%.  Symptoms after reinfection, such as feeling tired and breathing with difficulties, are much lighter compared to the first infection. “Those who have been infected only need one shot for further protection,” he said, “and I believe even one shot could protect most people from being infected.” Hong Kong had the first reinfection case in the world in August. The 33-year-old man was infected early in March and tested positive again after staying in Spain for a week. He recovered in five days.

Business

Hong Kong Disneyland Suffers Record Net Loss of HK$2.7 Billion in Fiscal 2020

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort reported on Monday a record net loss of HK$2.7 billion in fiscal year 2020 ending September 30, dragged by a plunge in non-local tourists during the coronavirus pandemic. The theme park had remained closed until February, 2021, which took up 60% of the fiscal year. Even the local guest reaction has been positive since reopening, the income cannot cover the high operation costs. Hong Kong Disneyland Managing Director Michael Moriarty said that the pandemic “is unpredictable” and their business strategy now focuses more on the local market. Park attendance was only 1.7 million during the reported period, a drop of 73 percent compared to prior year. Per capita spending dropped 18%, while the average hotel occupancy declined by 59 percentage points to only 15%, it said in a statement. Hong Kong Disneyland celebrated its 15th anniversary in November last year while the park only had 3 years in net profit since 2005. The net loss is the worst-ever on record and compared with a loss of HK$105 million a year ago.  In order to reduce cost, Disneyland adjusted operation days to only 5 days per week and about 4000 employees have been on unpaid leave since September, 2020.

Health & Environment

Use of Nanotechnology in Chinese Medicine Offers Hope in Breast Cancer Treatment

A new method of delivering Chinese medicinal herbs may be useful in the treatment of a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University and Cornell University have found. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Dr Kwan Hiu-yee, an assistant professor at  Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Chinese Medicine explained that gambogic acid, which is derived from a local plant is useful in cancer treatment. But it does not dissolve easily in water.  That limits its use in traditional Chinese medicine since most herbal treatments have to be boiled. Researchers tested two groups of mice with triple negative breast cancer cells. One using nanocarriers to deliver gambogic acid and the other without. The result showed that the weight of the tumor among the first group of mice decreased 67.6% on average after 17 days. The concentration of the drug was also three times higher two hours after delivery using nanocarriers. The new therapy also has reduced side-effects on the liver.  “Treatment of triple negative breast cancer has not been effective and is very expensive, said Prof Bian Zhaoxiang, professor in Chinese Medicine Clinical Studies at  Hong Kong Baptist University. The nanocarriers may offer hope in effective treatment in future.  But the cost for one dose of targeted therapy is between $2000 and $5000 US dollars. “The triple negative breast cancer takes up 25% among all the breast cancer,” said Prof Bian. “This new method for drug delivery with reduced side effects may help more people in future, “ Prof Bian added.  

Society

Slight Increase in Hong Konger’s Desire to Have Children after Maternity Leave Extension, Study Finds

Tony He is 27 years old and has been married for three years. “For now I do not wish to have any kids and It depends on how my career goes,” he said.  “Housing is a big problem here and we are not prepared.” Twenty-four year-old Polly Siu, who just graduated from university said the future is “unpredictable”, and she hopes to get a stable job first.  “Whether I will get married or have babies is hard to say,” she said.   According to a survey conducted last month by the Hong Kong Women Development Association, only 16 % of those aged 20-29 years in Hong Kong would consider having children.  Hong Kong people’s willingness to have children has gone up by 2 percentage points to 44% since 2019, the survey found.. But more than half of 1254 respondents polled in April said they are not willing to have children at all. The slight increase comes three years after the government extended statutory  maternity leave from 10 weeks to 14 weeks, and new mothers are now entitled to 80% of their salaries while on leave. But the Association believed maternity leave is only a minor factor when it comes to having kids. Those who do not wish to have children said financial burden is the main reason, followed by unaffordable housing and long working hours. Of those who said they would like to have children, women aged 30-39 years are most willing to become pregnant, followed by those aged 40-49 years. But only 16% of women between 20-29 years wish to have kids. “The educational level of women is improving and more of them are in the workforce,” said Lam-Wai-ming Vice Secretary of the association during a press conference. She also pointed out that the best reproductive age is between 20 …

Hong Kong Press Freedom Index Drops to Record Low after introduction of National Security Law

  • 2021-05-03

The Hong Kong Press Freedom Index has hit a new low for the second year in a row, according to the new annual survey published by Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) today . More than 96% of 367 journalists polled believed that press freedom in Hong Kong is worse than a year ago.They cited factors such as the enforcement of Hong Kong national security law, police search of the offices of  Next Media, police redefining “media representatives”and the prosecution of RTHK producer, Bao Choy.  The survey also included 1023 local residents. Of all the respondents, 85% said  that the Hong Kong government is suppressing press freedom.   The index for journalists plunged 4.1 to 32.1, compared with 36.2 in 2019, while the public one slightly increased from 41.9 to 42.6. Journalists aged between 30 and 49 years are especially pessimistic about press freedom, with the lowest index of 29.4.  Concern about criticising the Hong Kong government and the central government has risen, but the worry about physical threats has declined since the social unrest ceased in 2020.  Members of the public considered safety issues as a key factor when evaluating press freedom, while journalists took Hong Kong government, central government and self-censorship as the top three factors.  Chris Yeung, the chairperson of the HKJA said he is worried about the future of the Hong Kong press. “The worst is yet to come,” he said, “the power of the media as watchdogs is weakened.” “Something fundamental has changed…we are moving towards the system of the mainland where the media is part of the government structure.” Professor . Clement So from the Chinese University of Hong Kong suggested that journalists should hold their ethical value in facing difficulties.  “Upholding professional values is of utmost importance in times like this,” he said.