An epidemiologist will become the new head of the government’s disease prevention centre, succeeding outgoing chief Dr Thomas Tsang Ho-fai, the government confirmed on Tuesday.
Dr Leung Ting-hung, now head of the Centre for Health Protection’s surveillance and epidemiology branch, will take over from Tsang on December 29.
The announcement was made by the Department of Health in a statement responding to media enquires.
Tsang tendered his resignation in September, citing personal reasons, following 20 years in public service. A close friend said the 46-year-old wanted to give himself a break after a long period of hard work.
Dr Tsang has been head of the Centre for Health Protection since 2009 but was already well known for his star role during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic in 2003.
He was nicknamed "Superdetective Fai" for his exhaustive efforts tracking the source of infection, leading his team to the Metropole Hotel in Kowloon following the trail of a patient who unwittingly helped spread the deadly virus worldwide. It killed 299 people in Hong Kong.
Before that he took a lead role in the battle to contain an outbreak of bird flu in 1997. In the year he became controller of the Centre for Health Protection he had to take on flu - and his image as "the flu fighter" grew.
His replacement Dr Leung, 55, is a former deputy director of the Health Department. He was responsible for the anti-smoking legislation in 2007, which extended no-smoking areas to restaurants, bars and indoor entertainment facilities.
He joined the CHP in 2007 to oversee epidemiological investigations into disease outbreaks, and conduct surveillance and control of communicable diseases.