Rise in Zika cases

Zika outbreak: All-out effort to protect mums-to-be

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling (centre) and grassroots leaders speaking to patrons at the food centre at 117, Aljunied Avenue 2 yesterday. They gave out leaflets and insect repellent, and urged people to keep their premises mosquito-free. Ms Tin said she
MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling (centre) and grassroots leaders speaking to patrons at the food centre at 117, Aljunied Avenue 2 yesterday. They gave out leaflets and insect repellent, and urged people to keep their premises mosquito-free. Ms Tin said she and grassroots leaders are keeping a list of pregnant women as they walk around MacPherson to keep them "updated and assured".ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

MP Tin Pei Ling compiling list of pregnant women in constituency

MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling is drawing up a list of pregnant women in her constituency to keep them "updated and assured" about the Zika situation, after a female resident became the first known locally transmitted Zika case.

Ms Tin also responded within minutes after a pregnant woman living near Aljunied Crescent posted on Facebook that she was "starting to freak out" after hearing about the outbreak.

Ms Samantha Ng wrote: "I'm staying in the MacPherson area and currently in my last trimester. Hopefully (I) will be safe and good."

Within minutes, Ms Tin asked Ms Ng to send her a private message to let her know where she lives.

On Saturday, it was revealed that a 47-year-old woman living in Aljunied Crescent was the first locally transmitted case of Zika. The area is part of MacPherson constituency.

  • People who tested positive

  • The Health Ministry yesterday confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika. They are:

    • A 47-year-old Malaysian woman who developed fever, rash and conjunctivitis from last Thursday. She was referred to the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she tested positive for Zika on Saturday. She has since been warded for observation at CDC.

    • 36 foreigners from a worksite of Sims Urban Oasis, a condominium at 60 Sims Drive. Seven of them are warded at CDC; the rest have fully recovered.

    • A 30-year-old Singaporean man who works at the same construction site and lives in Sembawang Drive. He developed symptoms since Aug 22, and was warded at CDC on Saturday.

    • A Singaporean man and his son who live at Block 62 Sims Drive. The father is a retiree aged 65, and his son, 21, is a full-time national serviceman from Khatib Camp. They developed symptoms from Aug 23 and Aug 21 respectively, and were warded at CDC on Saturday.

    • A 44-year-old unemployed Singaporean man who lives at Block 54 Sims Drive. He developed symptoms on Aug 23 and is now warded at CDC.

She is the only Zika patient living in Aljunied Crescent among all 41 reported cases of locally transmitted Zika, Ms Tin wrote on Facebook as she assured residents who were concerned about the situation.

While Zika is mild for most, it can be fatal for unborn children. Infected pregnant women could also give birth to babies with small heads - a condition known as microcephaly - and other brain defects.

Ms Tin said she and grassroots leaders are keeping a list of pregnant women as they walk around MacPherson to give out leaflets and insect repellent, and urge people to keep their premises mosquito-free.

They have been knocking on doors at five Housing Board blocks since Saturday night and also visited a food centre at 117, Aljunied Avenue 2 yesterday. Ms Tin said: "We are actively looking out for pregnant women, taking down their particulars so we can follow up with them on a regular basis - to share with them information about Zika, so they are kept updated and assured."

There were at least 10 names on the list yesterday, and grassroots leaders will visit them again on Wednesday to check on them.

"We've asked (the pregnant women) to watch out for possible symptoms and seek medical attention if anything arises," said Ms Tin, who gave birth to her first child last year.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor and grassroots leaders also gave out leaflets and repellent in Sims Drive yesterday.

 

Officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) have stepped up misting and fogging to kill adult mosquitoes.

Dr Khor said "a couple" of residents were not willing to open up their homes to vector control officers. "I want to encourage all residents to cooperate," she said. "This is really very important. It is fundamental to our efforts to prevent or reduce the risk of the further spread of the Zika virus, particularly in this area."

Ms Mary Wee, a staff member of Bethel Assembly of God in Aljunied, said the church yesterday called off its monthly visit to homes of needy families as a precaution.

Meanwhile, residents said they felt assured by the increased efforts to combat the disease.

Mr Abdul Rahim Mohamed Yassim, 63, who lives in Aljunied Crescent and owns a stall at a food centre, said: "The grassroots leaders visited my home yesterday. I'm glad that they're giving us information on Zika. I'm not too worried, but I'll be more careful as I also don't want the virus to spread to others."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Extra steps to protect mums-to-be'. Print Edition | Subscribe