Singapore goes to war against Zika

Singapore goes to war against Zika
A National Environmental Agency (NEA) scatters mosquito pellets in a drainage around the Aljunied neighbourhood in Singapore on August 30, 2016.

IN AN effort to curb the transmission of the Zika virus, environment officials and several town councils are carrying out preventive measures, including inspecting work sites and spreading information on how to ward off infection.

By Monday, there were 39 Zika cases found to be linked to a construction site at Sims Drive.

Visiting the Sims Urban Oasis construction site yesterday, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck said he was glad to see that its operator has taken more precautions.

"We need all operators to reinforce their preventive measures right now to assure the community, the workers on the sites as well, that although the symptoms may be mild, we can't take anything for granted," he told the media.

His ministry has sent out advisories to site operators and will step up inspections.

He also warned that action would be taken against operators who "are a bit more negligent in this field".

Only one of the 39 Zika cases found at the site was a Singaporean while the rest were foreign workers.

No new fever cases were found yesterday, the site's main contractor Woh Hup said.

A Stop Work Order was issued to the 23,000 sq m site on Saturday.

Woh Hup construction manager Yong Jian Rong said the company's workers, subcontractors and staff had been briefed on the symptoms of the virus and protection measures.

Besides fogging and misting the site, the contractor also installed about 500 mosquito traps all over it and in the workers' dormitory - 10 times more than previously.

Workers are required to have temperatures taken twice a day.

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Netting has also been added to the dormitory's windows.

Some 490 people stay in the on-site dormitory, including staff from Woh Hup and its sub-contractors.

Mr Yong said his company had assured the workers they would be medically taken care of should anything happen.

Those recovering from Zika are given separate rooms with Wi-Fi and have their three meals delivered to them.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has inspected more than half the 6,000 premises in the Sims Drive and Aljunied Crescent neighbourhoods.

Misting and fogging have been intensified while drain flushing and oiling are done more frequently to prevent mosquito breeding.

The NEA is also looking at other places where those infected with Zika work or live.

These include Sembawang Drive, Kranji Road and Toh Guan Road East.

Residents and volunteers in the Yew Tee area will be heading out this weekend to hand out pamphlets telling households how they can protect themselves from Zika.

To help pregnant mothers, they will put up a website, Mummy Safe Singapore, detailing the precautionary moves.

At Jurong GRC, the town council has stepped up vector control efforts in open fields and community gardens.

The Health Ministry last night advised all pregnant women with symptoms of Zika, as well as those - with or without symptoms - with male partners who are Zika-positive, to be tested for infection.

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