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Hougang, Serangoon identified as dengue 'mega cluster'

Hougang and Serangoon have been identified as a dengue "mega cluster"  where over 600 cases have been reported.

SINGAPORE: A sharp rise in the number of dengue cases has been seen in recent weeks and this will likely continue as Singapore heads into the hotter months where a higher transmission of dengue is seen.

One "mega cluster" was identified in Hougang and Serangoon, where over 600 cases have been reported.

Clearing stagnant water from her garden is a regular routine for Mrs Clement Vijaya as she and three others in her family have each been hit by the dengue virus twice.

Mrs Vijaya said: "A lot of the time, I think it's the gutter. We have raised it (the gutter) and put it at an angle so that the water doesn't stay stagnant there but despite doing all this, dengue doesn't seem to be eradicated from this area."

Her husband Clement Franklin said it is a perennial problem.

"Every year, between April and July, we get a lot of dengue cases. At first, it was 20 to 30 but in recent times, starting from (the year) 2000, the frequency has very high. We like this neighbourhood but we are also afraid of the Aedes mosquitoes. We don't know when dengue is going to strike us again," he said.

NEA officers have been making monthly visits to their home in Da Silva Lane to inspect and spray insecticide, if needed.

Of the 106 dengue cases reported in the high-risk cluster which includes Da Silva Lane and Simon Road, the majority of them were found in landed properties.

As part of efforts to remind residents to stay vigilant, red dengue alert banners are being displayed prominently throughout the estate.

There are currently 17 dengue clusters located in the Hougang and Serangoon area. So far, 284 breeding sites have been uncovered.

The majority were found in homes (65 per cent), followed by other public areas (16 per cent).

There were fewer breeding sites at areas maintained by Town Councils (12 per cent) and construction sites (7 per cent).

For the past two weeks, 200 NEA officers were deployed daily to this mega cluster.

However, their work has not been easy due to the complex landscape.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Environment and Water Resources Minister Grace Fu said: "There is a large number of landed-property, interspersed with some condo-developments. We have seen quite a few in the neighbourhood and there are also many shop-houses, coupled with transport nodes. All this means very frequent human integration and movement."

She added: "The large number of landed properties also means it's more resource- intensive and that we need to put in more people to just check one premise."

There were a total of 21,099 premises in the clusters, including landed properties, HDB blocks, schools and MRT stations.

So far, 11,000 homes have been inspected.

NEA said the period from June to October normally sees higher transmission of dengue due to shortened breeding and maturation cycles for the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.

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