SINGAPORE - More than 300,000 bottles of mosquito repellent will be given out for free to suspected dengue patients by polyclinics and general practitioner (GP) clinics as the country prepares to enter the traditional dengue peak period.
Those who are suspected of having the disease are recommended to apply mosquito repellent regularly because this can protect others around them from getting infected and help break the transmission chain, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Monday (May 18).
The 30ml bottles were distributed to the clinics since early May, ahead of the traditional peak dengue season between June and October. NEA worked with the Ministry of Health and the clinics on this.
The agency said that 529 dengue cases were reported in the week ending last Saturday, higher than the 300 to 400 weekly cases that Singapore had in the first four months of 2020.
Over the same period, NEA conducted about 310,000 inspections islandwide for mosquito breeding, and found more than 6,400 mosquito breeding habitats.
In the light of this, the agency urged collective community action, and encouraged residents who are staying home over the circuit breaker period to be proactive in spraying mosquito repellent and getting rid of potential breeding sites in their premises by spraying insecticide in dark corners of the homes.
"With more people staying home, there is a higher risk of disease transmission within housing estates, especially in areas where the population of the Aedes mosquito - a day biter (which spreads the dengue virus) - is high," the agency said.
Outside of homes, since the start of the circuit breaker period, NEA has increased audits at construction sites to ensure that control measures are in place.
Of the 1,514 construction sites, as well as additional and alteration work sites, NEA said it is prioritising audits at sites within dengue clusters and within residential areas. Half of these have been inspected as of Monday.
From January to April this year, 31 summonses and two stop-work orders were issued to construction sites, and two contractors are expected to be charged in court for repeat offences.
More information about areas with higher Aedes mosquito population and dengue clusters can be found on the NEA website and myENV mobile app.
NEA has also started using SMS blasts since April to reach and alert residents in targeted dengue cluster areas.
The agency said: "As we enter the warmer months ahead, the increased risk of higher transmission of dengue is a concern, due to the accelerated breeding cycle and maturation of the Aedes mosquito vectors, as well as the shorter incubation period of the dengue virus."
This is not the first time the authorities have given out mosquito repellent.
In 2013, NEA said that 1.2 million units of repellent would be distributed to home owners, beginning with those who lived in cluster areas. NEA also worked with the Education Ministry to distribute mosquito repellent to children in schools located in dengue clusters.