SINGAPORE - More than 2,000 dengue fever cases were reported in the first three months of the year, or more than three times the number in same period last year when there were about 600 cases.
There have also been three dengue deaths in the first quarter, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Sunday (April 7). There was one death in the same period last year.
Mr Masagos was speaking at the launch of the National Dengue Prevention Campaign 2019, which usually takes place ahead of the peak dengue season from June to October. The campaign calls for a concerted effort to step up dengue prevention measures.
"In Singapore, dengue continues to be an ongoing threat," Mr Masagos said at the Kampung Admiralty Community Plaza.
"The effects of climate change, where the temperature is expected to rise, is going to exacerbate the challenge," he added.
The minister highlighted that countries in the region such as Indonesia and Malaysia have also experienced spikes in dengue cases this year.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement that it expects dengue cases to increase in the warmer months ahead, unless active steps are taken to keep the mosquito population in check.
Currently, mosquito traps which capture female Aedes mosquitoes and their eggs - called Gravitraps - are deployed in HDB estates, giving the NEA an overview of mosquito density in various parts of Singapore.
This has helped the agency remove 21 per cent more breeding habitats last year compared to 2017, when the traps were introduced.
Gravitraps will be deployed at new HDB blocks and landed housing estates in the second half of this year.
About 14,000 more traps will be set up this year, adding to the current 50,000 traps.
Phase Three of Project Wolbachia, which releases sterile male mosquitoes to control the mosquito population, has also started.
In earlier studies in Nee Soon East and Tampines West, the Aedes mosquito population decreased by 80 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.
The NEA conducted close to one million inspections last year and uncovered about 18,000 mosquito breeding habitats, said Mr Masagos.
About 224,000 inspections have been carried out from January to March this year, according to the NEA.
"The most important thrust (of dengue prevention) is community vigilance," said Mr Masagos. "To win the war on dengue, we need everyone to be vigilant."
He encouraged residents to remove stagnant water in their homes and also to pay attention to common breeding spots such as pails, dish trays, flower pot plates and vases.