How Singapore's biggest dengue clusters are tackling mosquito breeding

An official from the National Environment Agency inspects potential mosquito breeding sites at a resident's home. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Mr Thomas Cheng, who has been living in Braddell View since 2013, is concerned about the number of dengue cases in his estate.

The condominium is located in Braddell Hill, which is home to the largest dengue cluster in Singapore as at Friday (Aug 12), recording 481 cases since June.

All but one case in the cluster come from Braddell View and there have been 47 new cases in the cluster in the past two weeks as at last Friday.

Following the spike in cases, Mr Cheng on Wednesday told The Straits Times that he avoids areas with plants when he takes his two-year-old granddaughter on a walk around the estate, concerned about the number of mosquitoes lurking in the area.

Instead, they keep to the concrete void decks, and Mr Cheng applies a lot of mosquito repellent on his granddaughter when they go out.

At home, he keeps his windows closed and uses air-conditioning, and also sets mosquito traps daily.

Said the 64-year-old retired engineer: "It's worrying when I see the number of cases displayed on the banner in the condo being changed so regularly."

Since the start of the year, 24,039 dengue cases have been recorded as at last Friday, and there have been nine deaths due to local dengue infection as at June.

The worst outbreak was in 2020, when there were 35,315 cases and 28 deaths.

The dengue situation has hit very close to home for another Braddell View resident, a housewife who wanted to be known only as Madam Lucy.

The 63-year-old, who has been living in the estate for 20 years, said her husband had a dengue infection last month, though she was relieved that his symptoms were mild and he was able to recover fast.

She said officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) have visited her flat thrice in the past two months to conduct checks, and she has also noticed officers from the statutory board fogging the community garden.

To protect herself when she walks around the estate with her dog three times a day, Madam Lucy applies mosquito repellent on herself.

Braddell View is home to the largest dengue cluster in Singapore, recording 481 cases since June. PHOTO: ST FILE

ST reached out to the management of Braddell View to find out what it is doing to tackle the issue, but it did not respond to queries.

At Pine Grove condominium, where the number of cases has also been high, several steps have been taken by the management, according to Mrs Cheryn Liew, the chairman of the condominium's management council.

The condominium near Clementi has had 314 cases and is part of the second-largest cluster, with 392 cases since March. The cluster had four new cases in the past two weeks.

Mrs Liew said the management's primary concern since the first quarter of the year has been tackling dengue.

She said: "We have been made aware that it was a nationwide issue from early this year and, given the number of senior citizens in the estate, we are particularly concerned about the rampaging spread.

"So in all our council meetings, we have been focusing on the dengue issue as a major item on the agenda."

Following meetings with NEA, the management has engaged a pest control contractor to detect possible mosquito breeding habitats. Water tanks in the condominium were also checked and determined not to be breeding grounds.

Contractors were also employed to flush all the boundary drains to clear and unchoke the sludge and debris which had accumulated over many years.

The third-biggest cluster in Singapore as at last Friday has had 365 cases since March and includes several HDB blocks in Mei Ling Street and Stirling Road that come under the purview of Tanjong Pagar Town Council.

A spokesman for the town council said that together with the NEA, it has done extensive checks at all public housing common areas since the cluster was formed.

She added that fogging is done every two weeks to control the mosquito population and that the town council has been working closely with NEA and grassroots organisations on community outreach.

There have been two new cases in the cluster in the past two weeks as at last Friday. The spokesman said the town council will continue to work closely with the NEA and grassroots organisations until the cluster closes.

Also stepping up its measures is Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council, which is in charge of blocks in Ghim Moh, part of the ninth biggest dengue cluster which has seen 129 cases a at last Friday. There have been 51 new cases in the cluster in the last two weeks as at that date.

A spokesman said the town council has intensified its pest control treatment from the weekly cycle to a daily one in the estate.

Apart from thermal fogging and chemical misting at HDB common areas, the town council has implemented daily preventive measures such as the oiling of drains to deter mosquitoes from breeding there.

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