HKUST to resume normal operation in Fall Term; announces new vaccination and regular testing measures at the University

Hong Kong : The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), ranked No. 3 in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2021 and No. 34 among global universities in the QS World University Rankings 2022, announced that teaching and learning activities will resume normal in the Fall Term, starting from September. To ensure safety of its students, faculty and the staff from Covid-19, the University is conducting a vaccination drive on its campus while implementing strict social distancing and precautionary measures.

Upon beginning of the new school term, all students, faculty and staff members are required to be either vaccinated or undergo testing every two weeks. The university has arranged on-campus vaccination in June and July, with more rounds to follow for both new and existing university members – including those returning from India as well as other countries in the coming weeks. The University will also offer assistance to members who opt for regular testing due to medical and other reasons.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology adopts the vaccination and regular testing policy as it believes such measure balances the respect for personal choice and the university’s responsibility for public health.

The classes will be held in a hybrid mode to accommodate student(s) who cannot be physically present in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s contributions to fight Covid-19

Apart from providing its members a safe work and study environment, HKUST is also making collaborative efforts to fight the pandemic through science and technology.  Its researchers have worked tirelessly on preventing, mitigating and treating the significant public health threat.  Below are some of the inventions, discoveries and solutions created by HKUST’s researchers, faculty and students:

  1. A portable and rapid Covid-19 detection device using the latest microfluidic chip technology
  • This is one of the earliest Covid-19 detectors developed during the onslaught of the pandemic. The detector was not only highly accurate, but it also greatly reduced testing time from 1.5 -3 hours to just 40 minutes at the time.  The device was being used in mainland China and overseas countries such as Italy

  1. An artificial intelligence(AI)-driven fever screening system to identify febrile subjects
  • Installed at various Hong Kong boundary control points, the system constitutes the first line of defense as it helps identify inbound travelers with fever – which is one of the apparent symptoms of Covid-19 infection and reduces the risk of transmission from overseas. The technology could track a human face even if it is covered by a mask and partially occluded at the same time
  1. An antimicrobial coating which could kill a wide spectrum of viruses and bacteria
  • It was among the first coatings developed during the onslaught of the pandemic that could offer a lasting protection (at least 90 days) coating against an array of virus and bacteria including those more resistant than the coronavirus.  The coating was widely adopted across all public and private sectors in Hong Kong as well as other counties including Thailand, Bangladesh and Cambodia

  1. An ultrathin polymer nanofilm suitable for multiple biomedical and environmental applications – including a transparent and breathable facemask highly efficient against virus and bacteria
  • The first prototype of a mask that is not only truly breathable but is also transparent and highly efficient against virus and bacteria for child cares, performers and lip readers. The material is also good for many other applications including wound dressing

  1. Autonomous driving vehicles to assist delivery of groceries during city lockdowns
  • Equipped with technologies such as large-scale visual and sensor navigation and all-terrain 3D mapping, the vehicles can plan their routes after collecting data online and are able to detect on-road obstacles. Around 50 vehicles have been deployed in various cites in mainland China where the pandemic situation was the most pressing in early 2020

  1. Discovery of a set of potential vaccine targets
  • The researchers were one of the first one to identify the set of B-cell and T-cell epitopes in the genetic sequence of both the SARS virus and the novel coronavirus responsible for triggering an immune response in the human body. The findings have shed light on the vaccine development
  1. Establishment of a web-based platform for reporting vaccine recommendations for COVID-19 to help scientists across the globe in the quest for an effective vaccine 
  • The platform pools all available SARS-COV-2 sequences on a daily basis and provides the scientific community with up-to-date information of immune targets potentially capable of inducing a protective immune response against the virus

As one of the earliest universities to switch to teaching online back in February 2020 when the pandemic practically put education to a halt, HKUST was invited to share its online teaching experience in a webinar in April last year with 36 universities around the globe – including Oxford and UCLA.

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