Singapore's weekly dengue cases expected to hit new peak, may surpass 2,000 cases

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The authorities have issued 59 stop-work orders to construction sites for repeated mosquito breeding offences this year. Nine contractors will also be charged in court. More than 12,000 cases of dengue have been reported in 2022 so far.

SINGAPORE - The authorities have issued 59 stop-work orders to construction sites for repeated mosquito breeding offences this year, as Singapore braces itself for a record high in weekly dengue cases.

Nine contractors will also be charged in court.

This was after the National Environment Agency (NEA) conducted about 305,000 inspections islandwide, including about 2,300 checks at construction sites, uncovering about 9,000 mosquito breeding habitats, the agency said on Friday (June 3).

The number of weekly dengue cases here is expected to hit a new peak, surpassing the highest weekly figure of 1,787 cases in 2020, said NEA in its statement.

Singapore saw its highest number of cases in 2020 - at 35,315. 

Last week, 1,569 cases were reported.

The weekly figure may exceed 2,000 this month, with June being the start of the traditional peak dengue season, added NEA.

More than 12,000 cases of dengue have been reported this year so far. This is more than the 5,258 cases logged in the whole of 2021.

Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, who attended a media event at a construction site in Clementi on Friday (June 3), said: “This is a concern for us. We want to enhance and step up our measures to deal with dengue. 

“Besides working with the community and grassroots organisations to exercise more control and prevention measures, NEA has also been stepping up inspections.”

He noted that the inspections had found mosquitoes breeding in 60 per cent of household residential units, 24 per cent of common areas and 5 per cent of construction sites.

Companies that have been issued stop-work orders (SWOs) are allowed to only carry out corrective actions.

They must also review the effectiveness of sanitation and vector control programmes within the site.

The order will be lifted only when the measures have been completed and approved by NEA.

On its website, NEA said that construction sites are of particular concern as they can become centres of dengue transmission.

Dengue is transmitted to humans from the bite of an infective mosquito.

In addition to the 59 worksites that were issued SWOs, six contractors have been issued repeated SWOs at the same worksite due to poor upkeep of the sites.

Among the "egregious cases" of premises with multiple mosquito breeding habitats cited by NEA was a construction site in a dengue cluster in Woodlands Avenue 9.

Nine mosquito breeding sites with more than a few hundred mosquito larvae were detected in sanitary facilities, such as toilet bowls, during an inspection in April.

Sand granular insecticide being placed in toilet bowls/cisterns to prevent breeding of the mosquitos. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Another site in Jalan Batai in Upper Thomson Road was found with larvae in places such as ground puddles and a pail.

As at Thursday, there were more than 405 active dengue clusters reported, an increase from the 196 clusters at end-April.

Mr Tan said NEA will not hesitate to issue SWOs to make sure construction firms take the dengue outbreak more seriously. 

On the new variant (DenV-3) found in current weather conditions - dry, humid and rainy - that enable breeding mosquitoes to thrive, he urged everyone to work together to do the Mozzie Wipeout, especially in the coming few months. 

Welltech Construction project director Teo See Kuang, who oversees the construction site at Block 466A Clementi Avenue 1, among others, said the firm has hired third-party consultants to ensure its sites are free of mosquito breeding. 

NEA urged the public and premises owners to take action to break disease transmission, by removing stagnant water and potential breeding sites.

The public are also encouraged to download the myENV app, which can alert users when there is a dengue cluster near their homes.

NEA conducted about 631,000 inspections for mosquito breeding last year.

Forty-three stop-work orders were issued to construction sites, and 54 contractors were charged in court for repeat offences.

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