2020 dengue outbreak set to be worst on record

A dengue alert banner in the Woodleigh area. The National Environment Agency said there were 334 active dengue clusters islandwide as at Wednesday, well up on the 205 clusters three weeks ago.
A dengue alert banner in the Woodleigh area. The National Environment Agency said there were 334 active dengue clusters islandwide as at Wednesday, well up on the 205 clusters three weeks ago.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Over 14,000 cases reported since Jan 1; total number this year expected to surpass high of 22,170 in 2013

Singapore is on track to record its worst dengue outbreak in its history this year.

More than 14,000 cases have been reported since Jan 1, with the total number this year expected to surpass the high of 22,170 in 2013, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday. Eight people died of dengue fever in 2013, and there have been 16 deaths so far this year.

Experts have noted that case numbers are expected to rise further as Singapore is right in the middle of the traditional peak dengue season between May and September.

NEA said there were 334 active dengue clusters islandwide as at Wednesday, well up on the 205 clusters three weeks ago. It noted "intensive" vector control operations are taking place at large clusters in Woodleigh Close, Aljunied and Geylang roads, Bukit Panjang Ring Road, Leicester Road/Potong Pasir Avenue 1 and Bournemouth Road.

There has also been a higher rate of transmission in some clusters, including the Aljunied Road cluster with 191 cases, Bukit Panjang Ring Road with 185, and Bournemouth Road with 175 infections.

Other clusters with a quick rate of dengue spread include those in Geylang Road, Geylang East Avenue 1, Brighton Crescent and Arnasalam Chetty Road/Kim Yam Road. These clusters each recorded an average of about two to five new cases a day over the past two weeks.

Most mosquito-breeding grounds detected during NEA inspections are inside homes and premises, as well as in common areas within residential estates, said the agency.

It noted that while 75 per cent of the 1,328 clusters identified since the start of this year have been closed, "egregious mosquito breeding" continues to be detected.

One was a construction site within a dengue cluster in Potong Pasir Avenue 1. A stop-work order was issued to the site on June 24 after it was found guilty of mosquito breeding on multiple occasions. The order will be lifted when preventive measures have been correctly carried out, said NEA.

Other places found with multiple mosquito-breeding habitats include residential premises within dengue clusters, and common areas of Housing Board estates managed by town councils or residents' committees.

NEA said: "(This shows) that some owners of premises and occupiers are still not carrying out the necessary basic vector control checks, despite the extensive outreach on prevention over the past few months and the current serious situation."

Households will face heavier penalties for mosquito-breeding offences from July 15. Those with mosquitoes breeding in more than one place, or where breeding is found after they have been served a legal notice that they are in a dengue cluster, will be fined $300. Repeat offenders will be given heftier penalties or charged.

NEA said 6,900 premises islandwide have undergone inspection and vector control over the past three weekends. It urged owners and occupants to remove stagnant water in their immediate surroundings to help prevent mosquito breeding and curb transmission.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2020, with the headline '2020 dengue outbreak set to be worst on record'. Print Edition | Subscribe