Homes to blame for Serangoon dengue hot spots

NEA workers spraying insecticide to kill the larvae of the Aedes mosquito in the garden of a private property in Da Silva Lane. The cluster there is the fastest-growing hot spot fordengue cases.
PHOTO: Homes to blame for Serangoon dengue hot spots

SINGAPORE - Serangoon and Hougang are now among the riskiest dengue hot spots in Singapore, and homes in these neighbourhoods are the main culprits.

There are 17 clusters currently located there and 97 per cent of the more than 600 cases of dengue reported there involved residents.

The conjoined clusters are densely populated with a mixture of residential and commercial properties, including shopping malls, shophouses, schools and MRT stations and bus interchanges. These make up a total of 21,099 premises.

Slightly more than half of these premises are landed properties, condominiums and HDB blocks, which have largely contributed to 17 clusters being classified as high-risk areas by the National Environment Agency (NEA).

"There are a large number of landed properties interspersed with some condo developments... and there are also many shophouses coupled with transport nodes. All these mean frequent human integration and movement," said Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu during a site visit to the cluster located at Da Silva Lane/Kovan Road/Upper Serangoon Road yesterday.

The Da Silva Lane/Kovan Road/Upper Serangoon Road cluster is the fastest-growing area among the 17 clusters in the past two weeks, noted the NEA.

The Aroozoo Avenue/Hougang Street 11/Upper Serangoon Road cluster has the highest number of cases in Singapore at 154 as of Friday.

The NEA has stepped up its inspection in the area, with 20 per cent of its officers being deployed daily to the area, which stretches from Hougang Avenue 2 in the north to Bartley Road in the south.

Thus far, 5,683 homes have been sprayed with insecticide to kill the adult Aedes mosquitoes.

The officers search through both the indoor and outdoor areas of the premises, and more than 100 Gravitraps, a device designed to lure and trap adult mosquitoes, have been used since March.

In the Serangoon and Hougang areas alone, 284 breeding sites have been identified, of which 65 per cent were found in homes.

Only 7 per cent of the breeding sites were found in construction sites.

One resident living in a landed property in Da Silva Lane, who wanted to be known only as Mrs Poon, had initially suspected that the construction site nearby could have contributed to the large number of cases in the area.

Her daughter and maid were just recently infected with dengue and she is "very worried" now, especially with the hotter weather.

"We just bought a humidifier and check the outdoor areas for any stagnant water every day," she said.

The hotter months from June to October see higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, said the NEA.

More than 7,800 people have been infected with dengue so far this year, with one death. Last year's record dengue epidemic struck more than 22,000 people and seven died.

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