S'pore in emergency phase as dengue cases race past 2021 total and cross the 8,000 mark

A pest control officer carrying out misting at Woodsvale Condominium on May 14, as part of dengue prevention measures. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The number of dengue cases in Singapore has crossed the 8,000 mark in the first five months of 2022, exceeding the 5,258 cases reported in the whole of 2021.

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 on Saturday (May 14).

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

Mr Tan, who is also Minister of State for Home Affairs, 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 dengue cases was reported this week as at May 13, the National Environment Agency (NEA) reported on Saturday.

There were also 280 active dengue clusters reported, up from 196 clusters at end-April.

From January to April this year, NEA conducted about 243,000 inspections islandwide, including about 1,900 checks at construction sites.

It uncovered about 7,100 mosquito breeding habitats but noted that at dengue cluster areas, about 60 per cent of Aedes breeding detected are from homes.

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

They have focused mainly on raising awareness among residents and reducing breeding in residential and construction areas.

These have helped reduce active clusters by about 70 per cent.

There are also digital notice boards at the private estate and customised dengue posters at the lift lobbies reminding residents of steps to prevent mosquito breeding in their homes, as well as raising awareness of the dengue situation.

A digital notice board at Woodsvale Condominium reminding residents of steps to prevent mosquito breeding in their homes, as well as raising awareness of the dengue situation. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Mr Derrick Oh, 47, the condominium manager of Woodsvale Condominium 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.

Woodsvale Condominium resident Bob Wong and his daughter showing how they have taken steps to get rid of stagnant water in thier home. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

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.

In its advisory, NEA said that to break disease transmission and prevent Aedes 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 inside, which is used to kill mosquito larvae.

Those staying in dengue clusters should also spray insecticide in dark corners around their homes and apply insect repellent regularly.

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