NEA: Bishan St 12 no longer a Zika cluster

A contractor engaged by the town council fumigating the precinct of Bishan earlier this month.
A contractor engaged by the town council fumigating the precinct of Bishan earlier this month.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Bishan Street 12, which has had no new cases reported for two weeks, is no longer a Zika cluster, the authorities said yesterday.

The area is the first to be cleared of the virus since an outbreak started in Singapore a month ago - and offers hope that the fight against Zika in the rest of the country can be successful as well, say experts.

The Bishan cluster located in Blocks 122, 123 and 134, where five cases have been reported, was flagged on Sept 6.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) had conducted inspections in homes and outdoor areas. Eight mosquito breeding habitats were detected and destroyed.

On Sept 19, the cluster was closed after no new cases were reported there after two weeks. It, however, remains on high alert.

"The NEA had continued to keep the area under close surveillance, and will continue to do so until Oct 10, three weeks after the cluster closure date," a spokesman said.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, is sanguine that this could mean Singapore is making progress.

"This shows that we can overcome Zika, which means that with the same efforts in the rest of the country, we can push Zika back."

There are currently eight other clusters, although seven have not had any new cases in at least the past week.

The only cluster that reported new cases in that time frame is the initial Aljunied Crescent hotbed.

But even in that area, there has been a drop in the number of cases.

"At its peak, more than 20 cases were being reported there in a day, but this has dropped to about 29 cases in the past two weeks - approximately two cases per day," said an NEA spokesman.

The frenzy surrounding Zika has accordingly dropped a few notches. When The Straits Times went to the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive areas yesterday, there were neither mosquito patches to be seen, nor the distinct waft of mosquito repellent present.

Ms Tin Pei Ling, MP for Macpherson, which includes Aljunied Crescent, said: "In the past one to two weeks, life has gone back to normal."

Even then some feel the changes more so than others.

Mr Lim Meng See, 65 who runs a Western food stall at Sims Drive hawker centre, noticed that people seem to buy food back more, instead of dining in.

And despite the return to normalcy, residents are not letting up in their bid to keep mosquitoes from breeding. Madam Lee Ah Moy, 68, a part-time cleaner who lives in Block 52 in Sims Place, said: "I am not as worried as before, but I still make sure that there are no containers with stagnant water."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'NEA: Bishan St 12 no longer a Zika cluster'. Print Edition | Subscribe