Dengue infections on the rise: Over 500 cases a week, at least seven people dead this year in S'pore

Dengue cases have more than doubled compared to the same period last year. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Dengue infections have surged to over 500 a week, with at least seven people dying from it this year.

The deceased were between 60 and 80 years of age and had lived or worked within dengue clusters, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

Last week saw 508 people infected with dengue, a significant increase from the 390 cases recorded in the previous week.

Cases have more than doubled compared to the same period last year, topping 7,400 so far. Twenty people with ages ranging from 52 to 78 years died from dengue in 2019.

The NEA is expecting the number of infections to stay high and possibly further increase in the coming months.

"As we enter the warmer months of May to September, there is usually higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles for the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus," stated its website.

It added that with circuit breaker measures against Covid-19 in force till June 1, more people are working from home and this "increases their exposure to bites by Aedes mosquitoes that can carry the dengue virus".

This is especially so if they are living in a cluster area or an area with high mosquito population, the NEA said.

There are 123 active clusters now, with three large clusters having more than 100 infections each.

The biggest is along Bukit Batok Road with 153 infections, mainly at Pavilion Circle. The other two are at Woodleigh with 134 people infected, and Westwood area along Jalan Bahar with 104 cases.

Earlier this month, the NEA said it is releasing male mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia bacteria that make them sterile in the Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling, who is an MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC where the biggest cluster was observed, is among those who were infected with dengue.

Male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes mate with females that consequently lay eggs that will not hatch, thus curbing the expansion of the mosquito population.

Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes have previously been released in the Tampines and Yishun areas and have caused a 90 per cent suppression of the Aedes aegypti mosquito population. This is the mosquito strain that is primarily responsible for the spread of dengue here.

The NEA also cautioned all businesses and premise owners to ensure that they have adequate vector control measures at their premises, "even if certain operations may be on hold during this circuit breaker period".

It added: "This includes construction sites, offices and commercial buildings, shops, entertainment outlets, nurseries, farms, schools, and places of worship."

In the first quarter of the year, NEA officers found 4,600 mosquito breeding habitats.

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