HONG KONG, 4 January 2021 — The Association of Hong Kong Professionals (AHKP) put forward two recommendations on how the HKSAR government should introduce innovative measures to effectively handle current virus outbreak, so that Hong Kong can reach a target of zero community infection numbers as soon as possible.
RECOMMENDATION 1: SMART VENT PROTECTOR
Since SARS was discovered in 2003, in order to ensure that pipes do not harbour and spread viruses, the safety and design of water traps and exhaust pipes have been a primary consideration of industry experts.
Although many buildings have adopted improved ‘double-U’ water trap designs, with the outbreak of the new virus, vent pipes have become the means of spreading the virus between different flats in the same building, thereby increasing risks for residents.
Chairman of AHKP and Building Surveyor, Samson Wong San, and his SWA professional team, started developing the Smart Vent Protector (SVP) six months ago. Their aims were to make improvements in current ventilating pipe systems to achieve sustainable public health safety and greatly reduce concerns of the public and within the industry about the possibility of such vent pipes spreading viruses.
After several months of research and improvements, development of the SVP has made great progress and has now received full support of the Construction Industry Council (CIC). It is planned for the SVP to be officially launched onto the market in 2021 to help Hong Kong citizens fighting against the pandemic.
“In order to improve the air quality of exhaust pipes, the Smart Vent Protector incorporates advanced technologies for sterilisation and deodorisation. It only needs to be installed on the top of existing exhaust pipes on the roof of the building to effectively disinfect foul air from the pipes, so that the risks of spreading viruses and bacteria can be reduced. SVP can also help greatly reduce the public and the industry’s worries about exhaust pipes, and set new standards for building safety. It is a milestone in the architectural, construction, engineering and surveying industry,” said Samson Wong.
RECOMMENDATION 2: ESTABLISH A LONG-TERM WASTEWATER MONITORING SYSTEM TO DETECT COMMUNITY INFECTION AT SOURCE AND EFFECTIVELY CURB COVID-19 LOCAL OUTBREAK
In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in buildings and communities in Hong Kong, it is necessary to stop it at the source. Establishing a long-term wastewater monitoring system to detect any new coronavirus in housing estates, nursing homes, hotels and similar buildings in Hong Kong can further prevent any spread. With reference to research reports by teams from different countries in recent months, it is apparent that wastewater monitoring in communities is an effective tool for identifying transmission routes. Some cities have already set up dashboards to display the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater.
The recommendations of AHKP include the use of the test results and scientific analysis of the virus in wastewater to assess infection trends in specific communities. This will help improving existing clinical and laboratory monitoring data, and concentrate resources for more effective usage; buildings and communities can also carry out better environmental management.
Furthermore, AHKP recommends that government introduce policies that support, organise and train professionals in various related industries, including registered laboratories with qualifications to collect environmental samples of any coronavirus, property management officers, building services engineers, and building surveyors, to assist in taking samples in a standardised manner from underground drain pipes and manholes related to a building’s underground drainage system.
The samples collected then can be sent to a registered laboratory for analysis. By doing so, the Centre for Health Protection can immediately receive the relevant reports for systematic assessment and justify their decision for a regional compulsory testing plan with other pandemic prevention measures. This can be one of the effective monitoring measures to help stopping the spread of COVID-19 to achieve the goal of virus elimination as well as provide more job opportunities.
“Establishing a long-term wastewater monitoring system to detect any coronavirus not only can detect outbreaks, but also fight a pandemic effectively. Under a severe pandemic situation, the best way to cut off all invisible transmission chains is to implement drastic measures such mandatory testing and reducing the mobility of citizens. Their livelihood can only be restored if cases are eliminated as soon as possible, and this will lead Hong Kong out of the current situation,” said Dr. Pong Chiu Fai, Executive Vice Chairman of AHKP.
Samson Wong, Chairman of AHKP, believes that the traditional contingency plans for dealing with infectious diseases does not seem to be applicable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Wong also commented that although the SAR Government has not been able to follow the same approach in full due to differences in the social system, it should arrange adequate resources in a timely manner and choose strict principles of epidemic prevention and more surveillance methods to continuously innovate measures to deal with the pandemic. Everyone should carry on with the basic goal of eliminating all cases because, once measures are relaxed, the situation may rebound and become more severe again. Further resources will then have to be used to fight the disease and recovery will be delayed. — Construction+ Online