Singapore’s dengue cases hit a new high at 499 cases in a week, five times more reported cases than same period in 2018

The nation is currently affected with a dengue outbreak. In fact, the seriousness of the issue can be seen when 499 people were diagnosed with dengue fever last week, the highest weekly number in more than four years since 2015.

If that is not all, last week’s figure also shows that five times more cases were reported this year compared to the same period last year.

As such, it brought the number of people caught with this fever this year to be more than 6,200, which surpasses the combined total of the past two years. In 2017, 2,767 cases were reported and 3,285 last year.

As slightly more than one in three people infected with dengue fever being admitted in the hospital for three to four days, this shows that an average of 24 people could have been brought to the hospital every day last week due to this disease. To highlight the seriousness of this problem, 44 individuals have had the more severe dengue haemorrhagic fever, and five people have lost their lives so far – equal to the total death count in 2018 alone.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) told that the mosquito surveillance has revealed that the population of the Aedes mosquito – the main agent in spreading dengue – went up by 56% in May, compared with March.

“The persistently high Aedes aegypti mosquito population increases the risk of transmission of the dengue virus, and urgent action is needed to eliminate potential mosquito-breeding habitats in the community,” said NEA in its website.

The agency also noted that it’s normal that there’s a spike in dengue cases from June to October as the warm weather shortens the breeding cycle of mosquitoes.

However, looking at NEA’s chart, it shows that the number of cases were on an upward trend since March and not a sudden spike in June.

According to TOC’s sources, NEA is also uncertain what caused the spike in the cases and is trying to figure it out.

TOC has reached out to NEA for their comments on the cause of the outbreak.

Dengue hotspots

According to NEA, there are currently 125 active dengue clusters in the country, and the biggest chunk is in the eastern part of Singapore.

But, the biggest two clusters are around Woodlands Avenue 6, with 212 and 162 infections respectively. Additionally, these clusters have been active since April, and in the last two weeks, 15 more people have been diagnosed with dengue.

However, Block 55 Chai Chee Drive is the apartment block with the most number of residents affected. 54 people have contacted the mosquito-borne disease in this block alone this year.

Despite living in the hotspot, TODAY reported that some residents at Block 55 Chai Chee Drive said that business is usual for them, while others revealed that they’re aware and concerned that their block has the highest number of residents affected by dengue this year.

Prevention must be taken

Some residents, especially those with children, noted that they know the seriousness of dengue cases in their block and have taken necessary precautions.

A number of them noted that they’ve stopped sending their kids to the playground temporarily, avoid watering plants to reduce the possibility of mosquito breeding sites, ensure windows are closed after 7pm and get rid of stagnant water in the house.

NEA said, “To protect ourselves, all of us need to play our part in removing stagnant water from our environment, so as to deprive the mosquitoes of their breeding habitats. Inverting pails and flower pot plates and changing water in vases regularly are simple steps that everyone can take to prevent mosquitoes from establishing a foothold in our neighbourhoods.”

It added that it had sent out at least 16 stop-work orders to construction sites this year due to its breeding mosquito grounds. “Construction sites are of particular concern as they can easily become the foci of dengue transmission.”

However, the bulk of mosquito breeding still remains to be in the homes of people, and prevention should be seriously imposed here.

Tan Chuan-Jin, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC who handles the Kembangan-Chai Chee ward told TODAY that the town council is working with the NEA to get hold of the latest information and control the dengue problem within the area.

The town council had increased its vector control operations and cleaning operation in the area which include checking and destroying potential breeding grounds in common areas, as well as mitigating the causes of stagnant water wherever possible.