Dengue cases cross 8,000 mark within first 5 months of this year

Ahead of disease's peak season, figure already exceeds the 5,258 cases in whole of 2021

The number of dengue cases in Singapore has crossed the 8,000 mark in the first five months of this year, exceeding the 5,258 cases reported in the whole of last year.

This is worrying as the traditional peak dengue season between June and October has yet to arrive, said Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan during a media site visit to Woodsvale Condominium yesterday.

The private development in Woodlands Drive 72 is part of a cluster that has seen 96 dengue cases since the first case was detected in early March.

Mr Tan said: "We are seeing a steep increase in the number of cases by the week... It's an emergency phase now that we need to deal with to prevent further increase in the incidence of dengue cases."

A high of 1,055 cases was reported last week as at Friday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday. There were also 280 active dengue clusters reported, up from 196 clusters at the end of last month.

From January to last month, NEA conducted about 243,000 inspections islandwide, including about 1,900 checks at construction sites.

It uncovered about 7,100 mosquito breeding habitats and noted that in dengue cluster areas, homes were where about 60 per cent of instances of Aedes mosquito breeding were detected.

During his visit to Woodsvale Condominium, Mr Tan said community partners as well as grassroots leaders and organisations have been stepping up vector control operations in the area.

They have focused mainly on raising awareness and reducing mosquito breeding in residential and construction areas. This has helped reduce active clusters by about 70 per cent.

There are also digital notice boards at the condo and customised dengue posters at the lift lobbies reminding residents of steps to prevent mosquito breeding in their homes.

Mr Derrick Oh, 47, Woodsvale Condominium's manager, said these measures were introduced partly because the estate has a number of elderly residents.

Resident Bob Wong, 48, said his family has taken steps to prevent stagnant water from accumulating in their home.

"I'm definitely worried for my family," said Mr Wong, who is the regional chief financial officer for construction specialist company VSL International.

NEA said the surge in dengue cases this year is partially caused by a high Aedes aegypti mosquito population, which may be due to recent warm, rainy and humid weather.

A proportion of people are also staying in and working from home, it added.

NEA said that to break disease transmission and prevent mosquito breeding, residents should break up hardened soil, lift and empty flowerpot plates, overturn pails and wipe their rims dry.

They should also change water in vases, keep roof gutters clean and place BTI insecticide in the gutters to kill mosquito larvae.

Those living in dengue cluster areas should spray insecticide in dark corners around their homes and apply insect repellent regularly.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline Dengue cases cross 8,000 mark within first 5 months of this year. Subscribe