Just in the beginning of the month, the Environment Agency (NEA) said that 499 people were diagnosed with dengue fever at the end of June, the highest weekly number in more than four years since 2015.
However, in an update in NEA’s website on Monday (15 July), the Agency stated that the figure for dengue cases in a week has hit a new 5-year high, with 665 cases recorded last week.
This number is for the period between 7 to 13 July, and it showed an increase of 72 cases compared to the previous week.
If that is not all, it also surpasses the previous weekly peak of 637 cases recorded in January 2016. The highest weekly number of cases in recent years was 891 cases in July 2014.
“A total of 7,373 dengue cases have been reported this year (as of 13 July 2019), about five times more than the 1.481 dengue cases we saw in the same period last year,” said NEA.
As such, it calls for urgent action to be taken to “eliminate potential mosquito breeding habitats in the community”.
Out of the latest 182 dengue clusters reported, the largest cluster is located in the vicinity around Woodlands Avenue 6, Woodlands Circle, Woodlands Drive 40, Woodlands Drive 60, Woodlands Drive 70 and Woodlands Drive 72, with a total of 216 cases recorded.
However, NEA observed a “slowing down” in transmission of the disease in the last seven weeks in the Woodlands cluster.
In fact, it highlighted that only one case was reported in the cluster in the past two weeks, compared to 27 cases in a week, when the transmission was at its peak.
In Singapore, large clusters with a relatively fast rate of dengue transmission have been observed at Pasir Ris, Joo Chiat and Jurong East, NEA said.
Given that the situation is still at a risky state, NEA warned everyone to be alert to the threat of dengue.
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.
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,” it added.
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 and is yet to receive a reply.
As a prevention measure, NEA explained, “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.”
People who have been infected with the virus will usually have sudden onset of fever that can lasts up to seven days, along with severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, and skin rash.
In extreme cases, there is haemorrhaging, with bleeding in the gums, nose as well as under the skin, or with blood in the urine and stool.
Therefore, NEA urged those with dengue fever symptoms to immediately seek medical attention.