First Zika cluster of 2017 reported in Simon Place

Two locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed at Simon Place.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Two locally transmitted cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in Simon Place, near Kovan in Hougang. Both are from the same household.

The Health Ministry yesterday declined to reveal details of the two, but The Straits Times understands that neither person is pregnant.

The cluster is the first reported this year. There have been six other isolated cases this year. A cluster is formed when at least two cases occur within 14 days and are located within 150m of each other.

Residents have been urged to remain vigilant in detecting mosquito breeding spots, as most people infected with Zika do not develop symptoms, so it may take some time before the virus is detected.

Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries diseases such as dengue and chikungunya.

Singapore's first locally transmitted case was detected in August last year, while the last cluster was closed in December last year.

That cluster, in Bedok North Street 3, had seven cases.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday started vector control operations in Simon Place, as well as outreach activities.

As of yesterday, NEA has inspected about 120 out of some 400 premises in Simon Place for mosquito breeding, alongside ground checks in the vicinity.

Seven breeding habitats in homes and three on other premises were detected and destroyed.

Indoor spraying of insecticides, together with thermal fogging and misting at outdoor areas, has been carried out.

Zika outbreak in Singapore

  • There have been 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus infection here, according to the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency.
  • 12 / 27 Of the 41 people who tested positive for Zika, 34 of them have fully recovered while seven are recovering at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said MOH and NEA in the joint statement
  • None of the cases travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, which suggests that the virus was transmitted locally.
  • All of the infected are residents or workers in the Aljunied Crescent and Sims Drive areas, including 36 foreign workers.
  • NEA has stepped up its anti-mosquito measures - which include fogging and increased frequency of drain flushing - in the affected area and implicated dorms.
  • Meanwhile, residents said they felt assured by the increased efforts to combat the disease.
  • NEA began distributing insect repellents and leaflets with information on Zika to Sembawang Drive residents, having already done so in the affected area.
  • Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told local media more imported cases are likely because Singapore is an international travel hub.
  • And because many Zika carriers display only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all – meaning infected people may not seek treatment – local transmission of these imported cases "is also very high", he said.

NEA officers and grassroots volunteers are distributing information leaflets and insect repellents to households to raise awareness of Zika. They also stress the need to prevent mosquito breeding.

Residents are asked to allow NEA officers to carry out inspections and indoor spraying of their homes.

Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim said: "I thank NEA for its concerted work and urge residents to cooperate fully and to exercise personal vigilance."

Ms Lim added that she would be visiting some residents in the affected cluster today.

Members of the public are advised to seek medical attention if they are unwell, especially if they have symptoms such as fever and rash. They should also inform their doctors where they live and work.

By the end of last year, more than 450 people here had been diagnosed with the Zika virus.

This article was first published on Mar 30, 2017.
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