Netizens question govt’s actions on the control of Zika virus infection

As of 12 pm on 2 September, as much as 189 cases were reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA), two of the confirmed cases were pregnant women.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page that he notes that many of people are closely following the news on the local Zika cases. He said that the government had been tracking Zika for a while now, and knew it was only a matter of time before it reached Singapore.

PM Lee said that scientists are still learning about this new disease. However, he noted that for most people it is mild, and in fact often causes no symptoms at all.

“Pregnant women are at risk, as they are with other viral infections like dengue and chicken pox. Do take precautions and get tested if you show symptoms,” he wrote on his Facebook post.

“The cases so far have been in Aljunied and Bedok, but we must assume that Zika is elsewhere in Singapore too. Our best defence is to eradicate mosquitos and destroy breeding habitats, all over Singapore. Do the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout. Let’s all do our part to fight Zika, and dengue as well,” PM Lee added.

In response to his post, some citizens went on posting their comments to question what the government has done to handle the issue :

  • Kelvin Tan wrote, “PM Lee ,thanks for the advice. Will the govt consider to give free treatment to those who are infected by Zika virus. Although it is not fatal. Will the govt be forming a special committee to tackle Zika / infectious virus like this sort? Perhaps it is high time to think how to tackle cos it might affect the livelihood of the ppl especially those in F&B and tourism industry.”
  • Elsie Lee wrote, “Dear PM, shouldn’t govt consider fogging island wide instead of just the affected area?
    What happen to our clean and green country that our forefather had built?”
  • Luoermm Chen wrote, ” I think NEA should daily fogging all Singapore key communities, not just the affected areas. For Dengue, already very bad example, the control is really bad. Very slow response of NEA. Now Zika, not a surprise actually.”
  • Evangeline Chong wrote, “The main steps is the regular outdoor cleanliness. One cleaner to overlook the estate including covering a few blocks, how effective is it to make sure there’s no “wild” mosquitoes breeding in the drain, rubbish bins etc etc? How many times are those covered drains being cleared in a month? The poor cleaner has to maintain a few blocks… So how effective can the Authorities prevent or fight against such outbreak?”
  • Li Ping Lim wrote, “Dear PM Lee, as aedes mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, I wondered if the govt has checked with the infected people where they worked or area they visited in the daytime? Those areas need fumigation too. It would be even better if there’s an island-wide fumigation & do it regularly since the virus is contagious in the body of infected people for months…”
  • Hope Louisa Goh wrote, ” This place is a breeding place which stagnant dirty canal had been more than 2 weeks. It’s located in Tiong Bahru area, a construction site near Highline condo. Since most of the positive cases are construction workers, is there a need to address to stagnant water around construction sites?
    PM Lee, will there be intervention carried out? As it had been more than 2weeks, but seems liked no one had paid any attention to those stagnant water in the canal.”
  • Bottel Hayashi wrote, “It already incur a lot of costs to have children in Singapore .
    With this kind of system that is not helping, I believe the birth rate will get lower n lower .
    What’s worse ? How about single mothers ? How are they going to handle the financial part and this kind of no help system in Singapore.”
  • Jeremy Tan wrote, “Does “only a matter of time before it reached Singapore” mean anticipating Zika to spread here? If yes, then aren’t we supposed to prevent it from arriving?”
  • Robert Tan wrote, “Dear PM due to the zika menace, why can’t the Govt introduce a draconian law to order all building contractors to stop work for 3 days so as to focus and check all stagnant water within the project area to destroy possible breeding. This is the first best step to fight the disease.”
  • Gavin Khoo wrote, “Dear PM Lee, isn’t mosquito control efforts only half of the equation? Since the Zika virus is carried by humans, then I think those who are infected with it should be quarantined in mosquito-free hospital wards during their infectious stage. This is the only effective way to break the chain of transmission. Singapore has consistently lost the battle against mosquitoes, and it’s futile. It’s time for new thinking! Before Zika numbers reach dengue levels. Your reply would be appreciated, thanks.”
  • Casper Ee wrote, “Dear Sir,
    I’m very disappointed with the handling for testing of zika virus by KKH.
    I have a pair of 19 months old twins. Both had fever and rashes last week. When the news of zika virus in Singapore broke out last Saturday, I thought little of it then. But when a new zika cluster at Bedok North Ave 3 was announced on Tuesday evening, it suddenly dawn upon me that I should bring my infants to do a zika screening as I’m staying at Bedok reservoir, just beside Bedok.
    So, 1 Sept at about 8am, I brought my infants to KKH. By this morning, their fever has already subsided but they still have rashes on them. To my disappointment and shock, we were turned away from KKH for the zika testing. The reason is because they said that we did not fulfilled all the criteria for the zika testing set by MOH.
    A) while the infants may still have rashes on them, they currently do not have fever anymore. They said that the criteria is that the patient must have fever AND rashes at the same time to qualify. So, at the point of assessment at KKH, there was no fever.
    B) AND we also do not fall within the zika cluster zone to qualify for the zika testing even though Bedok reservoir is just within 1 km away from Bedok North Ave 3.
    KKH advised that if I am still concern about zika, I am to bring my kids to a private GP to do the zika testing at my own cost.
    Is this the kind of practices that Singapore healthcare should be adapting if we seriously want to prevent the spread of Zika virus? If my kids are carriers of the virus, they could be bitten by more mosquitos at home and the virus could be spreading to many others residents here and beyond.”
  • Loh Irwan Jason wrot, ” Mr Prime Minister, Zika maybe mild to normal Singaporeans but the expecting mothers are at risk. In my opinion, the moment there is any news from the health ministry side, the information should have passed on instead of so many cases already then start updated all the areas.
    The expecting mothers could have taken appropriate precautions earlier instead of letting them exposed and at risk now that it is all over the place and daily rising cases.
    Another thing is why the free screening for expecting mothers in affected and potentially effected areas must only after they have shown symptoms then effective?
    Must they wait till they are stricken then take subsequent actions?”