Zika: On the ground

Zika outbreak: Landscape firms chip in to prevent Zika spread

A resident leaving a community garden as a worker fogs the area at a new Zika cluster area in Singapore, on Sept 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

At least two landscape firms here are leaving no stone unturned to prevent the spread of Zika.

Mr John Tan, 56, owner of Esmond Landscape and Horticultural, has made the difficult decision of increasing the use of pesticides on his premises in Neo Tiew Crescent in Lim Chu Kang, to protect himself and his workers.

But the pesticides also kill other animals like frogs and dragonflies, which help to protect his flowers from other pests.

"I don't like it, but I've no choice. We have to help in this Zika situation," he told The Straits Times.

Other measures taken include pouring an oil-based insecticide into drains to stunt the growth of mosquito larvae, and flipping over big pots even at the risk of damaging them. He has also enlisted the help of his neighbour, who is licensed to do fogging, to do likewise in his garden.

To keep his employees safe, he makes them wear long-sleeved tops and pants when they go outdoors.

Guests who visit his garden also get mosquito patches or repellent.

"We also... make sure there is no stagnant water. We are doing our due diligence," Mr Tan said.

Another landscape company, Swee Bee Contractor, has also stepped up its efforts.

General manager Sherlyn Ong said staff have been instructed to make sure there are no pools of stagnant water at the company's premises in Hougang. She has also asked its contracted pest control company, which provides anti-mosquito treatment every two weeks, to be more thorough.

Jalelah Abu Baker

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline Zika outbreak: Landscape firms chip in to prevent Zika spread. Subscribe