Zika outbreak

Zika in Singapore: Parents cut down children’s outdoor activities

Madam Siti Zubaidah, who lives in Tampines, says she will avoid taking outdoors her daughters Amelia Shasmeen Azman (left), six, and Alisha Mia Shafana Azman, four.
Madam Siti Zubaidah, who lives in Tampines, says she will avoid taking outdoors her daughters Amelia Shasmeen Azman (left), six, and Alisha Mia Shafana Azman, four.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Parents of school-going children are not taking any chances should the Zika virus spread to other parts of Singapore during the week-long school break that started last Saturday.

Many parents told The Straits Times they will keep their young ones indoors - partly due to preparations for the year-end examinations that commence this month - and minimise the children's outdoor activities. The children will also be armed with mosquito patches and insect repellent sprays.

A few parents will be taking their children on short trips to nearby tourist destinations to reduce their risks of being infected.

Mr Derek Chen, who lives near the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive cluster, said he has taken leave from work and will be taking his family on a three-day getaway to Bintan.

"We don't want to take any risks," added the 40-year-old, who works in sales. "It is better that we stay away for a while."

Other parents, such as housewife Melissa Lee, said their children will be spending their school break at home.

 
 

They added that they will be taking the necessary measures. Most have stocked up on mosquito patches, lotions and sprays.

Ms Lee, 44, who has two children aged seven and nine, said she will be shutting all the windows and switching on the air-conditioning at her home in Bedok.

"I've told my kids to play indoors and avoid going to the nearby park or playground," added Ms Lee.

"If we have to go out, I will make sure that they apply insect repellent and have their mosquito patches on."

Marketing executive Samantha Tan, 45, who has two school-going children aged nine and 11, has taken a few days off from work to "make sure they do not wander outside".

"I'll be worried if my kids are outdoors as it increases their exposure to mosquitoes," she said. "We'd rather they stay home. At least we'll have some peace of mind."

Madam Tan, who lives in Upper Thomson, said she has also turned the Zika situation into a learning activity, reminding her children to remove stagnant water and not litter.

Unlike past school holidays, housewife Siti Zubaidah, too, is avoiding taking her two daughters, aged four and six, outdoors.

"For kids, their immunity may not be as strong as adults'," said Madam Siti, 42, who lives in Tampines. "Usually during the school holidays, we would go to the beach or the playgrounds, but we may have to avoid these places this time around and stay indoors instead."

While some parents are worried, others are not letting the Zika situation affect their children's holidays.

Engineer Dan Wong, 41, said his 11-year-old boy "deserves a good break as he has worked hard for the past few months", and he will allow him to play outside whenever possible. However, Mr Wong will be monitoring the situation closely.

"Children need the space outdoors to destress, especially during the exam season," he said. "But it is also good to take precautions, just to be on the safe side."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Parents cut down children's outdoor activities'. Print Edition | Subscribe