Thomas Tsang Ho-fai has resigned as head of the Centre for Health Protection and will leave his office before the end of the year, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said on Friday. Dr Tsang, 45, became controller of the Centre for Health Protection in 2007. The centre is part of the Department of Health, where Tsang has been employed for 20 years dealing with the prevention of communicable diseases. Tsang became familiar to the public during the fight against swine flu in 2009, and before that as a health department official during the 2003 Sars epidemic, which killed 299 people in Hong Kong, and during the 1997 bird flu outbreak. Ko said he had tried to persuade him to stay on, but Tsang wanted to take a break. “It is sad to see him leave, but we have to respect his decision,” Ko said.