Dengue cluster at Yale-NUS campus worksite

The National University of Singapore's (NUS) University Town (UTown).
PHOTO: Dengue cluster at Yale-NUS campus worksite

SINGAPORE - The main contractor of the new Yale-NUS College campus was issued a stop-work order yesterday after an outbreak of a new "high-risk" dengue cluster around the National University of Singapore's (NUS) University Town (UTown).

A cluster with 10 or more cases is considered high risk, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA). As of yesterday, this number had been reported in College Avenue West, where UTown - the living and learning quarters of 4,000 students and professors - is located.

Of these, seven were workers from the work site, an NEA spokesman told The Straits Times. NUS said some of the cases came from UTown.

The agency issued the order as "inspections detected one mosquito breeding habitat at the construction site, and the housekeeping was found to be unsatisfactory". NEA did not reveal the name of the contractor involved.

A spokesman added: "There have been instances in previous years of dengue clusters reported at or near educational institutions or student hostels, but this has not been common."

An NUS spokesman said the university is working with NEA "to manage the dengue situation".

Pest control contractors hired by NUS have been conducting daily inspections, and misting is being carried out three times a week.

The Yale-NUS campus stop-work order is the latest of about 60 so far this year. It comes less than two months after the biggest dengue cluster in Singapore's history was discovered in Choa Chu Kang, which originated from a construction site.

It prompted Choa Chu Kang MP Zaqy Mohamed to call for tougher action against contractors found breeding mosquitoes. Cases in that cluster reached a staggering 529 yesterday.

Between January and July 18 this year, the NEA issued 508 notices to attend court and 57 stop-work orders, in addition to prosecuting 14 contractors in court.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on Aug 7, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.