The incoming dean of Chinese University's medical faculty yesterday hit out at critics of the handling of the Sars outbreak at its teaching hospital last year. 'Sars is a disaster that took everybody unprepared. I think it is unfair to say that people were not prepared for that because you cannot be prepared for everything,' said Fok Tai-fai, 52, who officially takes over as head of the 200-member faculty next Thursday. His predecessor, the outspoken Sydney Chung Sheung-chee has gone on pre-retirement leave to go scuba-diving in the Philippines. Professor Chung will take up a teaching post in Papua New Guinea in September. Professor Chung was called the Sars whistle-blower, after he disputed claims by Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong that Sars had not spread to the community in the early weeks of the outbreak in March last year. Sars had earlier broken out at Prince of Wales Hospital, Chinese University's teaching hospital. Professor Fok said yesterday that when Sars hit Hong Kong, it came at a time when there had not been an outbreak of infectious disease for about 40 years. 'The last outbreak was cholera, which in no way spread like Sars. So you cannot say that the government was not prepared for this and therefore they should be blamed. 'You cannot prepare for everything, otherwise you will be spending all your money on nothing,' Professor Fok said. He said doctors and scientists had to work on probability. 'You have to deal with things that are likely to happen. 'For example, if a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hong Kong you could not say that the government was not prepared for a nuclear bomb. 'This can happen of course, but the likelihood is so slim that the government should not spend all its resources on things like this,' he said. Professor Fok said he would not ask anyone to leave the faculty in light of the handling of Sars. 'Stepping down is not the way to solve the problem.' He said the departure of three veteran Chinese University academics was not 'sinister'. In addition to Professor Chung, microbiology professor John Tam Siu-lun will leave to take up a post with a US pharmaceutical company while the head of the microbiology department, Augustine Cheng Fun-bun, has retired. 'It is the timing. People thought there was a conspiracy theory here, I can assure you that that is not true,' Professor Fok said. Professor Tam had been approached by a commercial company a year ago, while Professor Cheng's retirement was not unexpected, he said.