"Hong Kong University Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (HKURCEID)"
Assisted engineers and architects in the planning and oversight of construction of Biosafety Level 3 and 4 facilities for studies of high virulence influenza (particularly isolates from birds and pigs arising in China) and high risk diseases (including SARS) which included both laboratories and animal facilities (now commissioned as the Hong Kong University Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (HKURCEID)).
We consulted with University members, architects and engineers to ensure the facility was built to the highest standards. Tony Della-Porta participated in workshops and discussions, providing written advice and reports as required.
Tony assisted in writing the Operations and Safety Manual, conducted training in the use of personal protective equipment (including respiratory equipment) and carried out assessments on completion of the building, including the effectiveness of decontamination, autoclaves and sewerage treatment plants.
Features of the HKURCEID
This new facility was created in the middle of the laboratory wing of the University of Hong Kong's Medical School. The wing was constructed with 5 metre spaces between floors, making it possible to retrospectively fit air handling systems in the top 2.5 metres of the floor. The facility consists of an airlocked space which contains two P3 laboratories for work at Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) and an animal services area with three separately airlocked rooms.
Special features of this facility include:
- Air Handling
- The Animal Facilities
- The Laboratories
- Staff and Operating Protocols
- Waste Removal and Sterilisation
Features of the HKURCEID - Air Handling
The air in the facility passes through both pre-filters and HEPA filters contained in a filter housing above the work area .
The pressure differentials in the laboratory are measured using Magnehelic gauges and the pressure is shown outside the laboratory on a panel .
The HEPA filters are tested at regular intervals .
The integrity of the whole facility was tested using a pressure decay test (AS/NZS 2243.3: 2002). The variable speed fans that control the air supply are located in a plant room outside the secure facility. This makes access for servicing straight forward.
Features of the HKURCEID - The Laboratories
Entry to the facility is through an airlock that doubles as a shower exit. Staff change into laboratory clothes on entry and remove them before showering out of the facilities.
The airlock represents a -50Pa pressure drop and the central corridor is at -100Pa. The two laboratories come off the central corridor and have a negative air-flow from the corridor creating a relative negative pressure in the laboratories of around -140Pa.
One laboratory has Class II Biological Safety Cabinets, ducted services and movable under-bench cupboards. The other laboratory has both Class I and Class II Biological Safety Cabinets.
Staff don laboratory gowns (solid fronted, back opening) when entering laboratories. They remove their gowns on exit and wash their hands.
There is a separate clean room for the laboratory staff to write up their results and to communicate using computers and multi-functional devices (Fig.5). This is because paper cannot be removed from the facility without being sterilised.
Features of the HKURCEID - Staff and Operating Protocols
One of the most important aspects to the successful operation of a BSL-3+ facility is staff training and detailed operating procedures.
The University of Hong Kong's Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (HKURCEID) has a specially trained team, the Microbiology Emergency Response Team (MERT) responsible for the day to day operation of the facility and for the training of staff who operate in the facility.
Bio2ic worked with the MERT to prepare the HKURCEID Operating and Safety Manual which was then subject to approval by the University of Hong Kong.
Features of the HKURCEID - Waste Removal & Sterilisation
Waste from this facility needs to be sterilised out so that there is no possibility of infectious material being removed. Waste from the laboratory is put in tote boxes for autoclaving, and waste from the animal facilities is put in tote boxes and transferred out through the passboxes ,to the red corridor.
At the end of the red corridor are two autoclaves for steam sterilisation of waste across the secure barrier .
Equipment is sterilised out of the facility by gaseous decontamination (formaldehyde) in a specially constructed decontamination chamber with 1200mm air tight doors.
Any liquid waste from the facility passes along heat welded poly propylene pipes to the sewerage treatment plant in the basement of the facility.
The sewerage is treated using sodium hypochlorite in poly propylene tanks and then released to the Hong Kong sewerage system.
"Consultant to Tysan Project Management for the design and construction of a BSL-3 laboratory in the Pathology Department, Queen Mary Hospital, University of Hong Kong"
"Consultant to Tysan Project Management for the design and construction of a BSL-3 laboratory in the Pathology Department, The University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Queen Mary Hospital Compound, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong"
Bio2ic provided consulting services to Tysan and helped to ensure all of the operating procedures were running smoothly and safely.
We provided standards for testing of the HEPA filters, provision of detailed commissioning plans and PPE details, Provision of revised HKURCEID Safety & Operations manual, Set up a decontamination using formaldehyde, ran autoclaving tests. Reviewed the formaldehyde decontamination, autoclave test and spore strips.
Set up decontamination of the animal room 3 and evaluated results.
Checked on the emergency procedures for using ammonia gas, reviewed entry and exit procedures and removal of specimens and lectured to staff on the handling of spills and infectious substances
Features of the Pathology Department at Queen Mary Hospital
The Department of Microbiology undertakes research on emerging infections with a particular emphasis on those relevant to this region. Key areas of current research include those on influenza, Penicillium marneffei, antibiotic resistance and HIV/AIDS. Its scope encompasses both basic and applied research and covers aspects from microbial genomics, evolution and pathogenesis to epidemiology, diagnosis and clinical management of infectious disease. The laboratory is well equipped with facilities ranging from genome sequencing to PC3 level containment.
2013 Scoping visit for BSL-3 Tuberculosis Laboratory for Hong Department of Health
2014 BSL-3 Training course, Hong Kong Department of Health
2016 Consultant to Hong Kong Department of Health for design of BSL-3 laboratory