SINGAPORE: If there’s one thing Bob Wong, a resident of Woodsvale condominium in Woodlands wants people to know, it is that the fight against dengue is not just about individual efforts.
The 48-year-old and father of two, who moved to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2007, plays his part to protect his community from dengue.
For one, he has been part of his condominium’s MCST for the last five years, ensuring his officers "do their part" to care for common areas.
“Protecting your family members is a basic responsibility, but as a whole, of course we don’t want (dengue) to bother our neighbours as well,” said Mr Wong during inspection and vector control operations on Saturday (May 14) at his condominium.
“Everybody plays a part. It’s not just about myself.”
“SERIOUS DENGUE SITUATION”
Singapore is currently facing a “serious dengue situation”, with dengue cases continuing to rise “sharply”, stated the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media factsheet on Saturday.
A “high” of 1,055 dengue cases were reported this week as of Friday. And more than 8,000 cases have been reported this year to date, exceeding the total 5,258 cases reported in 2021.
“This is worrying, because we have not even gone into the traditional peak season between June to October, where dengue (cases) tend to be a bit higher as well,” said Minister of State for Home Affairs and Sustainability and the Environment, Desmond Tan, on Saturday.
Moreover, 280 active dengue clusters were reported as of Friday, up from 196 clusters at end-April, stated NEA.
For instance, one of the top five largest dengue clusters located around the Mount Sinai area off Holland Road uncovered 305 cases of dengue, with 11 premises detected with multiple breeding habitats during a single inspection and one premise detected with repeat breeding during re-inspection.
“In order to deal with this situation, NEA as well as our community partners, grassroot leaders and organisations have been stepping up the vector control operations, focusing mainly on raising awareness and vigilance among our residents,” added Mr Tan.
“(It’s) also to deal with the breeding in various areas - residential homes as well as common areas in places whether in the housing estates or even the construction sites.”
With such partnership among the community, the number of active clusters has been reduced by “about 70 per cent since the start of the year”, noted Mr Tan.
“At the same time, NEA also realised in the inspection that a lot of these breeding sites are actually happening in the residential homes. About 60 per cent of them are in residential homes,” he added.
For households found with repeat mosquito breeding offences and multiple mosquito breeding habitats, offenders may face a fine of up to S$5,000, imprisonment of up to three months, or both. Repeat offenders will be given heftier penalties.
MISTING, PIPING OF OIL, CHECKING FLOWERPOTS
Reporters were shown on Saturday how Woodsvale condominium works with residents to prevent the spread of dengue.
“Once we (had) the first case, we started to increase the misting in the estate and stepped up on oiling … (inspecting) all the drains, and all the keyholes," said 47-year-old condominium manager Derrick Oh.so
"We try to detect it as soon as possible for water ponding issues. Because where there’s water, there’s surely mosquitoes,”
He shared that their condominium is part of a cluster with more than 90 dengue cases currently.
On Saturday, pest control inspectors demonstrated several dengue prevention measures, such as piping oil into the insides of drains. The oil forms a layer to suffocate the mosquito larvae.
They also used duct tape to cover keyholes on drain covers where water could collect, and checked the flower pots at residents’ homes on the ground floor.
Reporters were also shown the condominium’s rooftop, where BTI (bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) pesticide was scattered to kill larvae, and the water tank is sealed up to prevent breeding.
Mr Oh also understands that some residents actually breed mosquitoes in their homes.
“So we tried to reach out to them by giving them the pamphlets, talking to them, or even putting the notices at common areas, like lift lobbies,” he said, and added that funding for dengue prevention has “slightly increased” this year.
“We also work with NEA to give residents insect repellants, flyers, to ensure everybody is safe. We don’t want anybody to get dengue. … Because we have quite a number of elderly residents here.”
According to NEA, residents are encouraged to regularly practise the “Mozzie Wipeout BLOCK” steps: Break up hardened soil; lift and empty flowerpot plates; overturn pails and wipe their rims; change water in vases; and keep roof gutters clear and place BTI insecticide inside.
Those who live in dengue cluster areas should take additional precautionary measures. This includes spraying insecticide in dark corners around the house, applying insect repellent regularly, and wearing long-sleeve tops and long pants, said NEA.
DENGUE PREVENTION IS “BASIC LOGIC”
On the individual’s part, dengue protection is essentially “common sense”, said condominium resident Mr Wong.
“I would say (it goes) back to basic logic. Dengue is about stagnant water, having mosquitoes grow from there. Keep ensuring there’s no stagnant water anywhere, starting from your bathroom, your kitchen, all the way.”
Mr Wong also takes “preemptive actions” to prevent stagnant water from gathering at all, such as with his drainage system in his kitchen which automatically drains water after he washes his dishes.
Still, he “definitely worries” about getting dengue.
“No one wants to get hit by dengue. We don’t want yourself or your family members to get dengue; you don’t even want dengue to be at your neighbour’s. … But it’s not about what I can do. I can only do my part. I can make sure (in) my home, everything is done properly,” he said.
“But again, fighting dengue is not rocket science anyway. … Water is not a problem. … Stagnant water is the problem.”