Over 2,000 dengue cases have been reported in the first quarter of 2019, which is a more than three-fold increase from the approximately 600 dengue cases reported in the same period in 2018.
Speaking at the main launch of the National Dengue Prevention Campaign 2019 at the North West District on Sunday 7 April), Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, made the call for a concerted effort to step up mosquito and dengue prevention efforts, to keep dengue transmission under control in the run-up to the peak dengue season.
According to National Environment Agency (NEA), seven per cent less Aedes aegypti mosquitoes detected in March 2019, compared to in March 2018, however, it has found from its Gravitrap surveillance system that the mosquito population still remains high.
NEA stated that the warmer months of June to October usually see the higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, due to the accelerated development of the Aedes mosquito and the shorter incubation period of the dengue virus.
NEA noted that it is thus expecting an increasing trend in dengue cases in the warmer month ahead if we do not take active steps to keep the mosquito population in check.
NEA has deployed about 50,000 Gravitraps islandwide to monitor the Aedes mosquito population in Singapore. The data on mosquitoes caught in these traps has been used to guide NEA’s inspection efforts to focus on areas with high Aedes mosquito populations, thus enabling more efficient deployment of limited manpower resources.
NEA said that the traps have also been effective in helping NEA remove a large number of adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, including infected female mosquitoes. Through the deployment of the Gravitrap surveillance system, NEA was able to remove 21 per cent more mosquito breeding habitats last year, compared to 2017.
This demonstrates the effectiveness of data analytics and continuous innovation in enhancing the efficacy of NEA’s vector control operations, it noted, adding that deployment of Gravitraps complements the efforts of the community, premises owners and other stakeholders in suppressing the mosquito population.
Gravitraps are usually deployed along the common corridors of residential premises. NEA noted that its officers will check and maintain the Gravitraps regularly, to ensure that they are functioning properly.
If the Gravitraps are misplaced or toppled, this disrupts our surveillance network and could cause our officers to prioritise the search for mosquito breeding habitats at wrong areas, resulting in delays in tackling the mosquito situation, NEA said.
“We, therefore, seek the cooperation of the public not to remove or tamper with the Gravitraps, added. the authority, urging members of the public who come across Gravitraps that have been toppled to contact 1800-2255-632 so that its officers can follow up.
From January to March 2019, NEA said that it has conducted about 224,000 inspections, including about 1,800 inspections carried out at construction sites and uncovered about 2,900 instances of mosquito breeding habitats.
During the same period, NEA has issued about 20 Notices to Attend Court and seven Stop Work Orders. In addition, two court prosecutions had also been taken against contractors for repeat offences
With a short breeding cycle of seven days, NEA stressed that keeping the mosquito population in check requires the joint effort of every individual and stakeholder in the community to eradicate mosquito breeding habitats.
Community-led efforts also play a key role in protecting our neighbourhoods from dengue and for tackling the problem collectively, whether preventing mosquitoes from breeding at home or at common spaces, NEA noted.
Members of the public are encouraged to:
- Practise the 5-step Mozzie Wipeout regularly
- Apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Spray insecticide in dark corners of the home, such as under the bed and sofa, and behind curtains
- Cover toilet bowls, sinks and gully traps and ensure there is no stagnant water at home, before leaving for vacation
- Seek medical treatment early if feeling unwell
- Participate in dengue prevention campaigns in neighbourhoods