Fogging begins at Simon Place after first Zika cluster of 2017 detected in the area

ST VIDEO: TIFFANY FUMIKO TAY
Pest control workers carrying out fogging at Simon Place on Thursday (March 30), after Singapore's first Zika cluster in 2017 was detected there.
Pest control workers carrying out fogging at Simon Place on Thursday (March 30), after Singapore's first Zika cluster in 2017 was detected there.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Pest control workers carrying out fogging at Simon Place on Thursday (March 30), after Singapore's first Zika cluster in 2017 was detected there.
Pest control workers carrying out fogging at Simon Place on Thursday (March 30), after Singapore's first Zika cluster in 2017 was detected there.PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Pest control and officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) carried out fogging at Simon Place on Thursday (March 30) morning, a day after Singapore's first Zika cluster this year was detected in the area.

Teams began spraying sidewalks and drains in the area at about 9.30am.

Two locally transmitted cases had been confirmed in Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang.

Both are from the same household, and The Straits Times understands that neither person is pregnant.

Some residents along Simon Place said they were worried about the situation, as there have already been a number of dengue cases in the area.

Retiree Paramaes Govin, 60, said that three people in her house have gotten dengue over the 27 years she has lived in the area.

"There's a bad mosquito problem here -the leaves and seeds from the trees fall and clog the gutter," she said.


Pest Control Operators carrying out thermal fogging in the vicinity of Simon Place after a reported Zika case. PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

But housewife Jessie Tan, 65, said: "I'm not that concerned because we already have pest control spray the garden every two months, and we don't open the windows at home."

Residents said that the NEA had visited their homes over the last two days to check for mosquito breeding grounds, and hand out small bottles of repellant.

Some are taking extra precautions, such as using mosquito coils, citronella candles, repellant and patches.

Housewife Phang Yok Kuan, 62, said that she would make sure her two grandsons, aged three and five, are protected by repellant before they leave for school each morning.


Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim made a visit to the area on Thursday morning as the fogging concluded, and said she would be surveying the area over the coming days.

"Residents living in this area are quite used to clusters of mosquito-borne diseases - in the last few years we've had dengue outbreaks, so they already know what to do and how to protect themselves," she said.

NEA officers will be visiting homes in the area to conduct low volume misting, she said, and urged residents to cooperate.

"At the same time, we should remain calm... and not overly panic over the situation," she said.

There have been six other isolated cases of the Zika virus this year.

Residents of Simon Place have been urged to remain vigilant in detecting mosquito breeding spots, as most people infected with Zika do not develop symptoms, so it may take some time before the virus is detected.

 

The NEA started vector control operations in Simon Place on Tuesday (March 28).

As of Wednesday (March 29), it has inspected about 120 out of some 400 premises for mosquito breeding, alongside ground checks in the vicinity.

NEA officers and grassroots volunteers have distributed information leaflets and insect repellents to households to raise awareness of Zika. They also stress the need to prevent mosquito breeding.


A thermal fogging notice sign at Simon Place. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore's first locally transmitted case was detected in August last year, while the last cluster was closed in December last year.

By the end of last year, over 450 people here had been diagnosed with the Zika virus.