Forum: Stop littering to help fight Covid-19 and dengue

A photo from Jan 14, 2020, shows women walking past a "Do the Mozzie Wipeout" banner promoting ways to prevent mosquito breeding at Kim Keat Avenue.
A photo from Jan 14, 2020, shows women walking past a "Do the Mozzie Wipeout" banner promoting ways to prevent mosquito breeding at Kim Keat Avenue.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Covid-19 virus continues to dominate headlines in Singapore. But let us not forget the dengue danger that infected 16,000 people and killed 20 last year (Dengue outbreak possible with rise of DenV-3, a virus type not dominant in more than 30 years, ST Online, Feb 11).

Dengue infections are now at a four-year high. There were 2,130 cases reported in the first six weeks of this year. This is almost as many as the 2,223 cases in the first three months of last year.

Most worrying is that we have seen an increase in dengue virus serotype (DenV-3 ) cases over the past three months.

This was not common in past years. This means that our immunity against this strain is weaker.

It is now even more critical that we do not litter.

All that is needed is stagnant water in an area as small as a 20-cent coin for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit the dengue virus, to breed.

Food containers, bottles and plastic bags carelessly discarded on streets and pavements can collect water and become habitats for the mosquitoes.

Drains clogged with litter also create pools of stagnant water for the mosquitoes to multiply.

Such discarded receptacles and drains are the top breeding habitats in public areas.

We are now battling on two fronts. But our worst enemy is littering. It not only helps the Covid-19 to spread, but also leads to more breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Litter is anything that we intentionally throw anywhere except into bins, or accidentally drop on the ground and do not pick up.

Litter is also bulky trash - old furniture, fish tanks, toys - thoughtlessly left outside bin centres. Such items are potential collectors of rain water.

We are now battling on two fronts. But our worst enemy is littering. It not only helps the Covid-19 to spread, but also leads to more breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

To help fight Covid-19 and dengue virus, we must stop littering.

Edward D'Silva

Chairman

Public Hygiene Council

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2020, with the headline 'Stop littering to help fight Covid-19 and dengue'. Subscribe