Dengue fight stepped up after three deaths in Jurong West cluster

 A dengue banner at Blk 953, Jurong West Street 91 on May 11, 2018.
A dengue banner at Blk 953, Jurong West Street 91 on May 11, 2018.

SINGAPORE - Prevention measures are being stepped up in Jurong West after three deaths from dengue fever were recorded in the space of three weeks.

Chua Chu Kang Town Council, along with National Environment Agency (NEA) officers and grassroots members, handed out bamboo pole covers, mosquito repellent and information booklets at the void decks of Block 953 at Jurong West Street 91 on Friday evening (May 11).

"During our routine walks and spot checks of the Jurong West cluster, we noticed that quite a number of households did not use bamboo pole covers, " MP for the area, Mr Yee Chia Hsing, told The Straits Times, referring to the covers that go on the end of hollow clothes poles which could provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

"We have definitely stepped up our efforts in light of the recent dengue-related deaths. This additional outreach effort is one example. We felt that by situating ourselves at the blocks in the evening, we could target those coming back home from work, as well as address the issue of bamboo pole covers."

A 68-year-old woman died from dengue fever on April 13, followed by a 41-year-old man and a 63-year-old woman on May 3. All three were Singaporeans.

Besides additional outreach efforts, Mr Yee said that his home visits, supported by grassroots members and the Choa Chu Kang Town Council, have also increased in frequency.

They give out insect repellent and dengue information booklets, and educate residents about how to prevent stagnant water from collecting, The Straits Times understands.

"We are optimistic that this will be temporal, and that the situation will stabilise soon," Mr Yee added.

Ms Angeline Tan, 38, a purchaser who lives in the cluster, said: "The Town Council and NEA have done a lot. Whether or not things will improve depends a lot on the residents here being responsible, and ensuring that they are not breeding dengue."

As of May 7, a total of 126 breeding habitats - such as in flower bowls, vases and pails - had been detected in the Jurong West cluster, including 87 in residential premises, while 39 were found in puddles, traps and drains, the NEA said.

No construction site-related mosquito breeding sites were found in the area.

NEA officers have continued with stepped-up inspections and outreach efforts in the area, in view of the ongoing transmission.

"The residents we have visited express that they do feel assured in spite of recent events, because of the sheer number of officers NEA has deployed to inspect the area," Mr Yee said.

There are currently four other active dengue clusters, according to the NEA website. Bedok North Street 3 and Cashew Crescent are both on red alert for having more than 10 cases, while Bukit Batok West Avenue 2 and Hemmant Road are on yellow for having fewer than 10.

There has been a total of 41 reported dengue cases in the past week.

Ms Ashley Teo, 19, a student who lives in the Cashew Crescent area, said: "When Cashew Crescent was still on yellow alert, I remember NEA visiting my house a couple of times, and examining our potted plants for breeding sites. They've been quite thorough in their preventive measures, so I'm not that worried."