More than 46,000 bottles of mosquito repellent given to students in some schools amid dengue outbreak

More than 46,000 bottles of mosquito repellent given to students in some schools amid dengue outbreak

NEA mosquito repellent schools
Dengue prevention outreach at a town centre. (Photo: NEA)

SINGAPORE: More than 46,000 bottles of mosquito repellent have been distributed to students at selected schools amid Singapore's worst dengue outbreak in history.

In all, 37 schools located in "large dengue cluster areas" have received the bottles of mosquito repellent, according to a media release by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Aug 18).

These schools have also procured mosquito repellent for use in the classroom, and taught their students how to prevent mosquito breeding.

"As the situation develops, NEA and MOE (Ministry of Education) will continue to work together to provide mosquito repellent to other schools that are located in large dengue clusters of concern," said NEA.

Additionally, NEA is also working with other partners and agencies to distribute mosquito repellent and educational materials to residents in dengue cluster areas, it said.

As of Monday, more than 185,000 bottles of mosquito repellent have been distributed to households in active dengue cluster areas, it added.

READ: Commentary - In Singapore, battling the COVID-19 threat outside and the dengue peril at home

Singapore has seen a surge in dengue cases, and earlier this month surpassed the record outbreak in 2013.

As of Monday, 25,053 dengue cases have been reported since the beginning of the year. In 2013, there were a record 22,170 dengue cases.

In all, 20 people have died from the disease this year as of Aug 2. The youngest victim was 25 years old, while the oldest was 92 years old. 

The large number of cases have been attributed by experts to warmer weather and rainy days since the beginning of this year as well as the "circuit breaker" period, during which non-essential workplaces and schools were shuttered and people were told to stay home.

A low immunity to certain serotypes of the virus is also a contributing factor, NEA said earlier this month.

READ: Dengue risk still high due to low herd immunity, more people working from home

Weekly numbers reported by the authorities show that while dengue cases have eased slightly recently, the number of cases and clusters remain high.

Last week, 1,341 dengue cases were reported, 327 fewer than the previous week.

"Whilst this is more than 400 cases below the historical peak of 1,792 this year, we are still in the midst of the traditional peak dengue season, and the weekly number of dengue cases remains high," said NEA.

"Urgent community action to carry out vector control measures, and individuals taking proactive steps to protect against dengue, are thus critical."

NEA said that it has been working closely with MOE to ensure that vector control measures are in place at all schools, and that potential mosquito breeding habitats are detected early and removed.

It advised parents to ensure their children apply mosquito repellent before they leave for school, if they study or live in dengue cluster areas.

Students are also encouraged to bring mosquito repellent to school, as regular application is needed for maximum effectiveness, said NEA.

READ: NEA begins 2-week ‘intensive’ vector control exercise as number of dengue cases set to surpass worst outbreak

DENGUE CLUSTER UPDATE

NEA said that there were 396 dengue clusters islandwide as of Monday.

The following clusters have been closed: Tampines Avenue 7 (170 cases), Potong Pasir Avenue 1 (144 cases), Senja Road (67 cases), Marine Drive (65 cases), Jalan Berjaya (59 cases), Woodlands Street 81 (56 cases), Anthony Road (47 cases), Sims Avenue (46 cases) and Woodlands Avenue 5 (45 cases).

"We have also observed a slower rate of disease transmission at some of the larger dengue clusters, such as the 307-case cluster at Bukit Panjang Ring Road, with an average of less than one case reported per day in the past two weeks," said NEA.

From the start of the year, 80 per cent of dengue clusters - or 1,657 out of 2,053 - have been closed. But the agency noted that the total number of clusters remain high, with large clusters located around:

- Aljunied Road, Geylang Road, and Geylang East Avenue 1 and 2 (349 cases)

- Arthur Road (309 cases)

- Bukit Panjang Ring Road (307 cases)

- Arnasalam Chetty Road and Kim Yam Road (295 cases)

- Aljunied Road, Geylang Road and Guillemard Road (268 cases)

More details on dengue clusters can be found on the NEA website.

NEA dengue outreach
Dengue prevention outreach at a town centre. (Photo: NEA)

PROFUSE MOSQUITO BREEDING

NEA said during its inspections in late July, it continued to detect "profuse" breeding in common mosquito habitats, such as pails, vases and drains. Between January and July, the agency conducted more than 552,000 inspections.

At a condominium around Arnasalam Chetty Road and Kim Yam Road, it found multiple profuse breeding habitats, including more than 100 mosquito larvae in an open car park drain and 50 larvae in a tree hole.

At a construction site in the same vicinity, more than 100 mosquito larvae were found breeding in an air compressor.

More than 50 mosquito larvae were also found breeding at two premises at Bukit Panjang Road - one in a ceramic vase with bamboo plants and another in a mop pail.

Around Aljunied Road and Geylang Road, more than 60 mosquito larvae were found breeding in an air cooler. At another premise, more than 50 larvae were found breeding in an open drain.

READ: How the COVID-19 circuit breaker and safe distancing stopped other infectious diseases in their tracks

NEA said enforcement action will be taken against the owners or managing agents of those premises.

"Residents also need to cooperate with NEA officers, and facilitate their checks and indoor misting in their homes. This would help to quickly eradicate mosquito breeding habitats and adult mosquitoes in homes, to break disease transmission," it added.

Agency staff members and volunteers have also been engaging residents in large dengue cluster areas every weekend since end-June, reaching out to more than 73,000 people.

"These efforts will continue at other large dengue cluster areas over the upcoming weekends," said NEA.

The agency said residents in dengue cluster areas should do the three protective actions abbreviated "SAW": Spray insecticide in dark corners around the house, apply insect repellent regularly and wear long sleeves and long pants.

These "are important to break the cycle of dengue transmission, by preventing the Aedes mosquito from biting human hosts and spreading the dengue virus to others in the vicinity", said NEA.

It added that "residents should also apply mosquito repellent if they are heading to a dengue cluster area, and bring it along for reapplication if they plan to be out for a long period", noting that the Aedes mosquito tends to be most active during the early morning and late afternoon periods.

Source: CNA/jt

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