First Zika patient had minimal contact with public, says Health Ministry

NEA contractors and officers carry out inspection and misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.
NEA contractors and officers carry out inspection and misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (second from right) looks on as NEA contractors and officers inspect and carry out misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (second from right) looks on as NEA contractors and officers inspect and carry out misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
NEA officers carry out inspection and misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.
NEA officers carry out inspection and misting at Watten Estate Road on May 14, 2016.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Fumigation under way in areas near Watten Estate on Saturday morning.
Fumigation under way in areas near Watten Estate on Saturday morning.ST PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH
ST VIDEO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - The first person in Singapore to contract the Zika virus stayed home in the six days between his return from Brazil and his admission to hospital, and had minimal contact with the public, the Minister of Health (MOH) said on Saturday (May 14).

The 48-year-old permanent resident returned on May 7 from a business trip to Sao Paolo in Brazil, where there is an ongoing outbreak of the virus.

He had stayed home most of the time after returning from Brazil on May 7, said MOH on Saturday.

He did not go back to work between May 7 and May 12, which was when he was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital and isolated.

The man also did not take public transport to the hospital, reducing the chances that a mosquito might have bitten him, then bitten someone else nearby and spread the Zika virus.

Fumigation and checks for mosquitoes are under way for 800 homes in and around Watten Estate, where he lives.

White fumes cloaked the estate on Saturday (May 14) morning as the National Environment Agency (NEA) steps up efforts to stamp out mosquitoes in the area around the patient's home in Bukit Timah.

 
 
 
 
 

At a press briefing on Saturday morning, the NEA said it checked 35 premises in the area for mosquito breeding sites on Friday.

It found seven sites - three in public areas and four in homes - which have been destroyed.

The agency has also reached out to residents in the area to distribute anti-mosquito flyers and insect repellent.

On Saturday morning, officers were deployed to carry out misting and fogging in the area.

It will be serving notices to those who live on inaccessible premises to arrange appointments for inspections.

The agency said that it may need to gain entry to inaccessible premises by force starting early next week if residents do not respond.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who is MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, visited residents on Saturday.

In a Facebook post after the visit, he thanked them for opening their homes for inspections and misting, and said that NEA will take steps to access empty homes if necessary.

"NEA also needs urgent access to all vacant homes and will have to take legal steps to gain access if necessary," he wrote.

Authorities have asked residents of Watten Estate, Casa Perla, Hillcrest Arcadia, The Arcadia and Watten Hill Condominium to monitor their health and seek medical help if they develop symptoms such as fever and rash.

Zika is transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito. It causes mostly mild symptoms, but is linked to microcephaly in newborns when their mothers contract it during pregnancy.