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What can dreams tell us about our physical and mental health?

The crowd rushed at me, embraced me in an uncomfortable way. I struggled to get away, or get help, and then I woke up. That was my recollection of a dream to Akira Cheung Ka-fai, founder of HARMONIC Holistic Healing Centre. Cheung is a clinical hypnotherapist who specialises in the interpretation of dreams. He said that graphics and sensations may be merely symbolic representations of real-life issues, but emotions and feelings are not distorted, but are real because the subconscious mind does not lie. “With more intense emotions and feelings, or more frequent occurrences, messages from the subconscious mind become more important and urgent to the conscious mind,” he said.  Cheung does not think one should use the conscious mind and rational thinking to interpret dreams, because the landscape can change and is symbolic, and sometimes what appears in a dream may not necessarily be the problem. It wasn’t until we tried to understand and analyze my dream that I fully understood how the conscious mind can block out the subconscious mind. “So what was the scene in the dream? Who came up to you and hugged you,” he asked. “A wedding, a relative’s wedding, and then my mum’s relatives interrupting me,” I said. “But now that I clearly remember that wedding from my secondary school days, and it wasn’t that terrible, and my relatives weren’t that annoying,” I added,  But soon I realised it was my conscious mind analysing the dream.  “What emotion did you feel in the dream,” he asked. I closed my eyes and tried to recall the dream and identify the strongest feelings in that situation.  “Pure annoyance, a struggle to break free, a feeling of powerlessness,” I said. “Elements and images in dreams can change and are symbolic only, but the feeling is always true, …

Society

Polycystic ovary syndrome patients regain menstruation by following the ketogenic diet

After Patricia Wong Oi-wai went a year without menstruating, she went on a ketogenic diet, a popular high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet commonly called “keto”. She weighed her meals, checked for fat content and only seasoned them with salt and pepper. Diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome at the age of 36, Wong refused to take medications. Instead, she read that a ketogenic diet could relieve her symptoms. She tried it to see whether it was real. PCOS is a common endocrine hormone condition among women of reproductive age that causes irregular menstruation, acne and excessive masculine features such as an overabundance of body hair. PCOS affects between 6% and 12% of women of reproductive age around the globe, according to a study from Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences. However, there is no precise clinical procedure to cure PCOS.  "If there is a way that would heal my sickness without taking any medication, why not give it a try?" Wong said. "After trying it out, it works." Wong used to cook for herself and cut back on social gatherings to meet the strict requirements of the ketogenic diet – a daily food consumption of 70% fat, 20% protein, 5% vegetables and 5% carbohydrates.  Wong lost nine kilograms after strictly following the ketogenic diet for a month and regained her menstruation four years ago.  A ketogenic diet is often used to lose weight and improve insulin resistance. PCOS patients said their emotions and hair condition improved on the diet and that it helped with weight loss and regulated menstruation cycles. It even increases the chance to get pregnant, according to a pilot study from Nutrition & Metabolism.  Wong, who said her PCOS symptoms have mostly been relieved by adopting a ketogenic diet, said it was tough for her to avoid carbohydrates and sugar …

Society

Multimedia: Hong Kong's sixth chief executive election

The sixth chief executive election was held last Sunday. John Lee Ka-chiu, becomes the chief executive-elect with over 99% support from the Election Committee. The Young Reporter documented this first uncontested election in the city.

Society

People got trouble with quarantine in mainland after escaping from the pandemic in Hong Kong

As the pandemic hit Hong Kong with unprecedented Omicron variants, many people working and studying in the city have started their journey to escape to mainland since mid February to avoid the health crisis. However, the poor living condition, extraordinary high prices and awful food during the 21-day quarantine caused a lot of inconvenience to the people longing to return home.

Society

John Lee Ka-chiu confirmed to be the new leader in Hong Kong

John Lee Ka-chiu, 64, the sole candidate, secured his seat as the sixth chief executive in Hong Kong today with only eight votes against him.  Lee won 1,416 votes out of 1,428, including four blank votes, gaining trust from over 99% from the election committee, a record high of support. Thirty-three members did not vote. “With loyalty and perseverance, I shall undertake this historic mission and shoulder this responsibility to unite and lead the 7.4 million Hong Kong people to start a new chapter together,” Lee said at the press conference after being elected. This is the first chief executive election since Beijing’s election reform ensuring governance by “patriots only”. It is also the first uncontested chief executive election in Hong Kong since its handover. “I extend my sincere congratulations to Mr John Lee on his successful election and later today,” said Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the current chief executive, in a statement today. “We will render all the support needed for the assumption of office by the new term of government.” Lee will take over as chief executive on July 1.  The chief executive is chosen by the election committee, a body that has been expanded from 1,200 to 1,500 members after the electoral system reform and includes representatives from different sectors.  “The election committee members are very responsive and completed their responsibility,” said Tam Yiu-chung, member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, also the Lee’s campaign manager. “This is an important event in Hong Kong. The sixth chief executive will be elected under the new election system. We wish Hong Kong to begin a new chapter and a good development.” Lee, a former police officer, handled the anti-extradition bill protests in 2019 as Secretary for Security.  Lee’s latest ratings plunged to a new low of 34.8 between March 7 …

Society

Desperate for drugs during the lockdown in China

Liu Tian, 27, in Changchun, Jilin province, suffers from a major depressive disorder. She has been off her medication for ten days since the city went into lockdown due to COVID-19 in March. Her medicine is only available at three pharmacies in the city far away from her home, and she cannot get it delivered. She tried to contact epidemic prevention staff in the community and the hospital for help. The community staff issued her an emergency medication certificate, but she could not go to the hospital because of local traffic control.  As a result, she had headaches, was irritated and emotionally unstable. She tried calling the hospital’s emergency number but was told that they were only responsible for emergency care and not prescriptions. “I don't want to keep looking for medicine anymore because I'm afraid of being rejected again,” Liu said. “When I was at my worst, I even thought about committing suicide.” Beijing has been sticking to the "dynamic zero tolerance" strategy for Covid. That means even a few positive cases would trigger a lockdown followed by large-scale testing.  During the lockdown, no one can travel and delivery services are limited. Chronically ill patients like Liu Tian face difficulties purchasing medications. They turn to local community staff, volunteers, and netizens for help. Cheng Yulong, 51, has diabetes. “My blood sugar level kept rising, and I was really desperate. I cannot solely rely on the blood sugar-lowering medications because they are not as effective as insulin,” he said. When the lockdown started in Changchun in early March, he had to stay at the construction site where he had been working for almost 30 days, but he only carried a limited amount of insulin.  The insulin Cheng needed was sold out in the nearby pharmacies. He sought help from community …

Society

BRISBANE | Labour Day events in Queensland, Australia

Thousands of union members have flooded Brisbane’s CBD for the Labour Day parade in the capital of the State of Queensland in Australia today. The Labour Day events are organised by the Queensland Council of Unions, affiliated with the Australian Labor Party. The Queensland Council of Unions said that the event acknowledges the improvements made to the lives of working people and to society by the labour movement. Political figures from the Labor Party have participated in the parade. Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland, marched along with Anthony Albanese, the Leader of the Opposition of Australia. Michelle Rae, the Queensland director of Media and Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said their goal in this parade is to raise awareness for press freedom and remind the rights of freelancers in the media industry. She explained that the Labour Day parade in general brings collective power to fight for a better working environment and holidays that labourers  deserve. “The parade can bring a new generation along, and at the same time, it can give Union members a chance to talk about their reality,” said Rae. The march ended with live music shows and booths that provided refreshments for participants at Brisbane Showgrounds after an hour's walk.  

Society

Hong Kong reopens border to non-resident

Hong Kong reopens its borders today to non-local residents, ending a two-year entry ban because of Covid-19. The Food and Health Bureau announced the lifting of the ban after a government steering committee reviewed the latest epidemic situation. "Considering public health factors … and balancing the expectation from members of the public as well as the various sectors of the community … the committee considers that there is room to suitably adjust relevant measures," a spokesman of the bureau said. Inbound foreign passengers must be fully-vaccinated and are required to check into designated quarantine hotels for seven days after taking a rapid antigen test at the airport upon landing. The seventh cycle of quarantine hotels includes 44 hotels for both visitors and Hong Kong residents returning from places other than the Mainland and Macao. But as of 5 p.m. today, more than three quarters of the hotels are short of rooms for May. Phailin Xie, a Thai-Chinese, was considering coming to Hong Kong to see her brother and newborn nephew, but decided not to visit because of the quarantine measures. “While it is good news that Hong Kong is reopening to tourists, the week of quarantine still makes my trip difficult, not to mention the need to book a much sought after hotel room in advance,” she said. The government is also relaxing the threshold for suspending incoming infected passengers flights. The current three-person threshold is raised to five passengers, or five per cent of the passengers on board the same flight. Flights over this limit are suspended for five days instead of seven. Hong Kong International Airport figures show that in 2018, the number of passengers hit 74.4 million and the airport handled over 400,000 aircraft movements. But by 2021, that had plummeted to 1.3 million passengers and 145,000 …

Society

Second phase of vaccine pass kicks in today

  Second phase of the vaccine pass starts today. Visitors aged 18 or above should have received at least two doses of Covid-19 vaccinations to enter specific premises such as restaurants and supermarkets. The new arrangement has tightened the vaccination requirement compared to the first phase, people receiving only the first dose are no longer allowed to visit the listed premises. Special groups such as children aged under 12 and holders of medical exemption certificates are exempted. Tammy Lam, 21, said that most of the visitors tend to neglect the “LeaveHomeSafe” QR code before entering shopping malls, according to his observation.  “As there are no regular checks on whether people have scanned the ‘LeaveHomeSafe’ QR code, I doubt the effectiveness of the vaccine pass,” Lam said. Cherry Chan, 60, was infected with Covid-19 on March 7, but did not receive any vaccination beforehand. She failed to report her positive result on government websites.  “I cannot download the Recovery Record QR Code as there is no recovery record in the Department of Health’s system,” Chan said. The QR code serves as a vaccine pass for Covid patients for the following 180 days after recovery.  Though Chan is recommended to take the first dose earliest on the 30th day after recovery, according to the guideline offered by the Department of Health, she will not receive the vaccination, and opt for takeaway instead.  “Operators of catering businesses are required to use the ‘QR Code Verification Scanner’ mobile app developed by the Government to scan the QR code of a customer's vaccination record or Medical Exemption Certificate or recovery record to ensure compliance with the active checking requirements,” said the government spokesman on April 28. A maximum fine of HK$50,000 and imprisonment for six months will be charged for violating the rules, according to …

Society

No more vaping: HK’s ban on vapes and e-cigarette sales, import starts tomorrow

Starting Saturday, Hongkongers can no longer buy vaping products or e-cigarettes in the city. The anti-smoking ordinance, which was passed by lawmakers in October and goes into effect on April 30, bans the import, promotion, manufacture, sale and possession for commercial purposes of alternative smoking products, including electronic smoking products, heated tobacco products, herbal cigarettes and smoking accessories. Offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.  Personal vaping is still allowed, but lawmakers hope the new regulation will discourage young people from starting smoking. The policy is to protect public health by encouraging people not to smoke, reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and reducing the public's exposure to secondhand smoke, Secretary for Food and Health, Sophia Chan Siu-chee, said in the Legislative Council on October 21, 2021. The Heated Tobacco Concern Group said the legislation is more likely to encourage cigarette smuggling as the new ban does not prohibit the consumption of e-cigarettes. “I believe that some of the e-cigarettes users will insist on using heated cigarettes and will buy pods illegally, such as on the black market,” Joe Lo Kai-lut, the convener of the Heated Tobacco Concern Group, said in a press conference in September. In the group’s survey of nearly 1,000 e-cigarette smokers, almost 90% said they would go back to traditional cigarettes, while the rest said they would buy cigarettes on the black market if the government has a total ban on e-cigarettes. “Since most people have the habit of smoking traditional cigarettes, a large number of e-cigarette users are expected to return to traditional cigarettes if they don't want to break the law,” Lo said in the press conference. Wong Tung An, 30, an e-cigarette smoker for two years, said that the new ban will be ineffective in helping …