Spike in dengue cases has not overburdened health system

A red alert dengue fever cluster banner along Lorong 24 Geylang on July 20, 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

A spike in dengue fever cases in recent months has not placed an undue burden on Singapore's healthcare system, said the Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak yesterday.

Associate Professor Mak added that while there has been an increase in the number of people going to clinics or emergency departments with fever and tests are needed to determine if they have dengue or not, this increase is "still manageable".

"The majority of cases with dengue do not require inpatient care and can be safely managed in an outpatient setting," he said at a virtual press conference. "Because of this, our hospitals have not been unduly burdened with needing to admit too many patients as a result of dengue."

The spike in dengue cases comes as Singapore is still grappling with the coronavirus outbreak.

The country has seen an unprecedented outbreak of dengue this year, with close to 20,000 cases so far. The National Environment Agency (NEA) has said the total number of cases is expected to exceed the previous high of 22,170 cases reported in 2013.

Prof Mak said that dengue fever and Covid-19 share some common symptoms such as fever. It is important for doctors to be mindful of this and conduct the necessary tests to determine which condition a patient has, he added.

"So, the increasing cases of dengue lead us to test a bit more, to be absolutely sure about what we are dealing with.

"We have seen increased cases coming to see doctors in both the inpatient and outpatient setting but, in fact, it has not led to a big burden for us at this stage. We continue to keep a close watch on this."

The Health Ministry is working with the NEA on eradicating mosquito breeding spots in the community, he said.

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A record 1,733 dengue cases were reported last week, the highest number of weekly dengue cases recorded in Singapore to date. Last week was also the sixth consecutive week for which the weekly number of reported dengue cases exceeded 1,000.

The highest weekly infection number in previous years was 891 in 2014.

Nineteen people have died of dengue so far this year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2020, with the headline Spike in dengue cases has not overburdened health system. Subscribe