Dengue cases rising sharply, NEA calls for 'urgent collective community effort' to fight rise

There have been more than 1,500 reported dengue cases this year as at March 5, 2022. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Dengue cases are rising sharply, with 264 cases recorded in the week ending March 5, said the National Environment Agency on Thursday (March 10).

This is an increase of 65 cases compared to the previous week.

There have been more than 1,500 reported dengue cases this year as at March 5, with the weekly number of cases climbing steadily in the past eight weeks, said NEA in a media release.

"A contributing factor and key concern is the high Aedes aegypti mosquito population detected in the community, which has increased by about 9 per cent in January 2022 compared to in the same period last year," said NEA.

The female Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary vector of dengue.

"If left unchecked, the current high Aedes aegypti mosquito population - together with circulation of the previously uncommon dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3) and sizeable proportion of people still staying in and working from home - may lead to a surge in dengue cases in the coming months," added NEA.

The agency called for "urgent collective community effort" to drastically reduce mosquito breeding habitats and slow down the rise in the number of cases.

"NEA therefore urges members of the public and other stakeholders to stay vigilant and not let their guard down, as dengue remains a serious public health threat," it added.

New purple alert banners will be deployed in areas with persistently high Aedes aegypti mosquito population in the coming weeks.

Such areas have higher mosquito populations compared to others for periods of three months or more, according to NEA's monitoring system.

Said NEA: "These areas form a subset of locations with higher Aedes aegypti mosquito population, which NEA currently updates monthly on its website.

"The intent is to alert residents, community partners, and key stakeholders at such areas to take preventive measures against mosquito breeding, in order to reduce the risk of dengue."

These new purple alert banners are in addition to NEA's existing Dengue Community Alert System, which includes the display of colour-coded banners - in red, yellow or green - to inform residents and members of the public about the dengue situation at their estates.

NEA advised residents living in areas with the purple banners to practise the Mozzie Wipeout "B-L-O-C-K" steps at least once a week to remove stagnant water.

BLOCK is an acronym for breaking up hardened soil; lifting and emptying flowerpot platters; overturning pails and wiping their rims; changing water in vases; and keeping roof gutters clear and placing BTI insecticide in them.

BTI insecticides tap bacteria to produce toxins which can kill mosquitoes.

As at 5pm on Thursday, there were 12 red alerts, or high-risk areas with more than 10 dengue cases; and 45 yellow alerts, or high-risk areas with fewer than 10 dengue cases, identified on a dengue cluster tracking map on NEA's website.

The largest red alert cluster is in a locality off Dunearn Road, bounded by Hua Guan Avenue and Rifle Range Road.

Other red alert clusters are in areas off Jalan Jurong Kechil, off Holland Road and Woodlands Drive 17.

"Our dengue prevention efforts are not only focused on dengue cluster areas, but include non-dengue cluster areas that have higher Aedes aegypti mosquito populations," said Mr Chew Ming Fai, NEA's deputy chief executive.

"Taking a pre-emptive approach in heightening dengue awareness and mobilisation of the community for dengue prevention efforts is key to our vector control strategy."

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