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'Immediate action' needed against dengue amid sharp rise in cases; surge expected in coming months: NEA

02:39 Min
There is a need for the public to take immediate action to prevent mosquito breeding as dengue cases in Singapore continue to rise, said the National Environmental Agency (NEA) in a media release on Wednesday (Mar 30). Sherlyn Seah with more. 

SINGAPORE: There is a need for the public to take immediate action to prevent mosquito breeding as dengue cases in Singapore continue to rise, said the National Environmental Agency (NEA) in a media release on Wednesday (Mar 30).

The number of dengue cases has risen sharply, with close to 3,000 dengue cases reported since the start of this year. There are currently 112 active dengue clusters - the two largest being Woodlands Drive 17 (185 cases) and the vicinity of Holland Grove (160).

The cluster at Woodlands Drive 17 was identified on Feb 9, while the cluster in the Holland Grove area was identified on Feb 12. Cases in both clusters have been largely on the decline since the month of March.

Ahead of the traditional peak dengue season from June to October, NEA on Wednesday launched the annual National Dengue Prevention Campaign.

Its new purple dengue alert banner will be put up in areas with a persistently high population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. 

"These are higher dengue risk locations, as more mosquitoes can accelerate dengue transmission once cases are present," said NEA.

"Such areas are about three to 10 times more likely to develop into large dengue clusters, compared to areas with lower mosquito populations."

Speaking to reporters, Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan said that dengue remains a "clear and serious" public health threat amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In recent months, we noticed a sharp rise in the number of dengue cases across Singapore. It's almost close to 3,000 from the start of the year until now and just last week alone, we saw over 400 cases. So that's quite a worrying trend," he added.

"That's why this year, even before we reached peak season of dengue, which is usually between June and October, NEA decided we're going to launch the dengue prevention campaign."

Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan unveiling NEA’s new purple dengue alert banner. (Photo: CNA/Matthew Mohan)

A total of 444 dengue cases were recorded in the week ending Mar 26 - the highest number recorded at this point in time in the last four years.

"The National Dengue Prevention Campaign aims to rally the community to take immediate action to reduce dengue cases, by highlighting areas that are at higher risk and the health consequences of dengue. Ground outreach efforts will be jointly led by local Grassroots Advisers and Leaders, with support from NEA’s volunteers," said NEA.

"Together, they will conduct house visits at dengue cluster areas and areas with high Aedes aegypti mosquito population, advise residents on common mosquito breeding habitats and share dengue prevention tips. To sustain a high level of awareness, the islandwide outreach will be carried out over at least three months."

THREE KEY FACTORS BEHIND SURGE

The surge in dengue cases this year is due to three key factors, said NEA.

The first is the high number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes detected in the community, with the population about 17 per cent higher compared to the same period last year.

In addition, the previously uncommon Dengue virus serotype 3 (DENV-3) is circulating, noted NEA, with cases of DENV-3 being detected in large clusters across the island.

"Many people are still staying in and working from home, which could translate to more biting opportunities for the day-biting Aedes aegypti mosquito, and thus potentially higher risk of dengue transmission," the agency added.

NEA said it expects a surge in the number of dengue cases in the coming months.

"It is critical that all residents and stakeholders take immediate action to suppress the Aedes mosquito population and break disease transmission. Concerted community action and sustained vector control efforts will prevent further escalation of dengue cases," it added.

From January to February, NEA conducted about 101,000 inspections for mosquito breeding islandwide, including about 1,070 checks at construction sites. About 2,600 mosquito breeding habitats were uncovered, said the agency.

Source: CNA/mt(gs)
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