Home owners back new dengue rules

Ng Xin Yi, six, and Andrea Tay, seven, watching an experiment involving the Aedes aegypti mosquito at the Do the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign, held at Tampines West Community Club on Sunday. From March 14, a home owner will be fined $200 if mosquitoes are foun
Ng Xin Yi, six, and Andrea Tay, seven, watching an experiment involving the Aedes aegypti mosquito at the Do the Mozzie Wipeout Campaign, held at Tampines West Community Club on Sunday. From March 14, 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. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Several people who fell victim to dengue or had family members who contracted it said they supported the recent move to stiffen penalties for those found to have mosquitoes breeding in their homes.

About 10 people The Straits Times spoke to said they supported the decision as they felt it was important to resolve the dengue problem before it spread to other parts of the neighbourhood.

From March 14, 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.

Singapore Management University undergraduate Ko Ding Wei, 20, said he was surprised to find that, in the past, only those caught breeding mosquitoes in a dengue cluster were fined. He contracted dengue in 2008, despite not living in a dengue cluster. He said: "It's better to solve the problem early before it starts to spread."

Mr Segar Gopal, 48, who is self-employed, lives in Sing Avenue - off Rangoon Road - a dengue cluster in the past. He said: "Without the fine, many people wouldn't be bothered to keep their homes mosquito-free. Innocent people would get dengue because of other people's carelessness." Mr Segar's sister and her two children contracted dengue after visiting him in November last year, despite his efforts to keep his home mosquito-free.

DEADLY CONSEQUENCES

A $200 fine is tough but medical expenses and, possibly, a family member dying, are even worse.

MR JAMES LEE, who was fined 10 years ago

The latest push against dengue by the National Environment Agency (NEA) comes after it said two weeks ago that dengue could hit an all-time high of 30,000 cases this year due, in part, to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

According to the NEA, most cases of mosquito breeding are in homes. It reported 513 new dengue cases in the week ending Feb 27, a fall of 80 cases from the previous week. Since Jan 3, 4,548 people have been infected and there have been two deaths.

Mr James Lee, 52, a director at a firm that sells mobility devices, was fined 10 years ago after a toilet in his house was found to be a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.

Since then, he has been more careful about making sure there is no stagnant water at home.

Others, however, felt more could be done to fight the dengue scourge. Retired secretary Winnie Tan, 62, who lives in Upper East Coast Road, said tougher quarantine measures should be put in place.

She contracted dengue three years ago, but her condition was initially determined to be not serious enough to ward her. So, she went home and went about her daily activities. She said: "I now realise I could have infected others."

For Mr Lee, despite doing his best to keep his home mosquito-free, his son, mother-in-law and maid contracted dengue three years ago. He said: "A $200 fine is tough, but medical expenses and, possibly, a family member dying, are even worse."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2016, with the headline 'Home owners back new dengue rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe