Serangoon North Avenue 1 residents see stepped up efforts to curb spread of Zika

Serangoon North Avenue 1 residents see stepped up efforts to curb spread of Zika

Block 143 Serangoon North Avenue 1
The latest Zika cluster is located at Block 143 Serangoon North Avenue 1. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

SINGAPORE: Residents at Serangoon North Avenue 1 have seen efforts to curb the spread of Zika ramped up after a third cluster was reported in the area in less than a month.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Monday (Aug 14) that it had confirmed two cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection at block 143 and Serangoon Ville.

The first cluster at Serangoon North Avenue 1, at blocks 125, 126 and 127, was reported on Jul 26 and has since been closed.

The second cluster, at blocks 109, 115, 116 and 117, was reported on Aug 4 and remains open. As of Tuesday, there have been five cases of Zika in the cluster, two of which were in the last two weeks, data on the NEA website showed.

Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim told Channel NewsAsia that the town council “has been working with NEA to step up measures to eradicate possible (mosquito) breeding, including checking roof tops and oiling of apron drains”.

“Residents are going about their lives as per normal, but with some heightened awareness,” added Ms Lim, who oversees the Serangoon division. “Those I visited confirmed that NEA had been going door to door to give advice and conduct checks.”

Serangoon North Avenue 1 Zika 2
Gravitraps are introduced by NEA to trap adult mosquitoes and prevent them from breeding. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

When Channel NewsAsia visited block 143 on Wednesday, NEA officers were preparing to make rounds with workers from a pest control company.

According to an NEA notice at the lift lobby, its “officers will be conducting spraying along the common corridors to remove any adult mosquitoes in a bid to stop the Zika transmission”. The operation will be carried out on Wednesday between 9am and 3pm, it added.

“NEA has been carrying out intensive mosquito larval inspection around your neighbourhood,” it stated.

RESIDENTS REACT

Block 143 resident Siva Kumar, 54, said of the NEA officers: “They’ve been to my place many times. I always see a lot of them at the void deck going through a briefing.”

Mr Siva, a teacher, said an NEA officer inspected his premises and gave him a bottle of mosquito repellant last week. “They’ve been fumigating the area too. I’m very happy about their efforts. They are very concerned about the health of people here.”

Another resident, Mr Kuthus, said authorities are “taking good steps to combat Zika”. “When the officers come here, they will instruct us on the things we need to avoid,” the 39-year-old said. “They also did fogging in the corridors twice last week.”

The travel consultant noted that workers have been distributing pamphlets on Zika at the nearby Serangoon North Community Centre.

Ms Revathi, 29, said the ramped up efforts were "good enough". Officers visited her neighbourhhood twice this month to conduct “fogging and raise awareness about Zika”, she said. “They saw I had children, so they gave me repellant,” added the homemaker, who has an 18-month-old son.

Serangoon North Avenue 1 Zika 3
A resident reading a poster on how to do the five-step mozzie wipeout. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

Mr Choo, an SMRT driver, said NEA officers visited him “three or four times” in the past week. “They told us to clear stagnant water to prevent mosquito breeding,” the 62-year-old said. “They’re always stationed at the void deck and they’re conducting checks everywhere.”

Ms Allamanda, a 31-year-old homemaker, who had just picked up her four-year-old son from school told Channel NewsAsia she feels “quite safe” as she has seen NEA officers actively doing checks on the area.

Another housewife, Ms Chen Yu Bing, 40, said officers dropped by thrice last week to conduct fogging in her corridor and to inspect her home. “I feel that they are doing enough, but they can do more too just to be safer,” she added. “It’s quite dangerous now.”

One resident who wanted to be known as Mr Tham expressed concern about an uninhabited block nearby. The 34-year-old, who is self-employed, said Block 149 is newly constructed and remains cordoned off.

“It’s empty right now, so when it rains and some puddles form, nobody can go in there to clear them,” he said. “We see officers fumigating here, but they’re not taking much action at the new building. I’m sure there’s a high possibility that’s causing the recent outbreak.”

Block 149 Serangoon North Avenue 1
Block 149 Serangoon North Avenue 1 remains vacant and inaccessible to the public. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

AEDES MOSQUITOES THRIVE FROM JUNE TO OCTOBER

NEA had said in a release in May that the “warmer months of June to October” are when Aedes mosquitoes have “accelerated breeding and maturation cycles”.

Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries diseases like dengue and chikungunya.

Serangoon North Avenue 1 Zika
An NEA notice indicating that vector control operations will be carried out in the unit. (Photo: Aqil Haziq Mahmud)

A total of 61 Zika cases and 10 clusters have been identified since the start of the year, according to figures from the NEA website. The first six clusters were located in the Upper Serangoon Road area, within close proximity of each other.

The seventh cluster, located at Kensington Park Drive, is near the three clusters at Serangoon North Avenue 1. Only two clusters remain open.

A cluster is formed when at least two cases occur within two weeks and are located within 150 metres of each other, and closed when no new cases are reported after two weeks.

By the end of last year, more than 450 people in Singapore had been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

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