Grassroots volunteers go door-to-door in Jurong East to educate residents on dengue

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu handing dengue pamphlets and insect repellent to a Yuhua resident.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu handing dengue pamphlets and insect repellent to a Yuhua resident.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - After eight new dengue cases were reported in her constituency last week, Ms Grace Fu, MP for Yuhua SMC, went on the offensive to fight dengue on Sunday.

Leading a team of 120 grassroots volunteers, Ms Fu went door-to-door to educate residents living in Yuhua SMC, located in Jurong, on preventing mosquito breeding in homes.

Yuhua SMC is home to three active dengue clusters, the largest of which is in Jurong Street 13 with 34 cases. The other two clusters in Jurong Street 21 and 23 have four and three cases, respectively.

Ms Fu said many of the residents were not aware they were living in an active cluster.

"The awareness is not high enough, we need residents to be alerted," said Ms Fu, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

She appealed to grassroots volunteers present at the exercise to spread awareness of dengue among their friends and neighbours, and help monitor the situation on the ground.

"Be our eyes and ears on the ground," she said.

National Environment Agency (NEA) statistics show that most cases of mosquito breeding are in homes.

 

From March 14, stiffer punishment will take effect in the Government's on-going fight against the spread of dengue. Now, a home owner will be fined $200 if mosquitoes are found breeding in the premises, regardless of whether the house is in a dengue cluster or not.

Previously, only home owners in dengue clusters were fined.

Last month, the NEA warned that the total number of cases this year could surpass 30,000, exceeding the record 22,170 cases in 2013, as a result of warmer temperatures due to the El Nino weather phenomenon and a switch in the predominant virus serotype to DEN-2 from DEN-1.

El Nino, which causes warmer- than-usual temperatures, promotes faster breeding and shorter incubation times for the dengue virus, while the switch in serotype is historically followed by a spike in dengue cases due to lower immunity to the new strain.

The number of new dengue cases reported in the week ending Feb 27 was 512, a drop from 590 the week before. Since the start of this year, 4,812 people have been infected and there have been two deaths.

Secondary school student Rachel Tan, 17, who lives in block 217 in Jurong Street 21, said her family has stocked up on mosquito repellent.

"I'm especially worried because I feel I am very prone to mosquito bites. I spray mosquito repellent on myself whenever I leave my house," she said.

She lives within an active dengue cluster with four cases.