Roping in all to stop the spread

SINGAPORE - Mark your calendar: Sunday is "mozzie wipeout" day.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) is stepping up the fight against dengue fever by roping in residents to clear potential mosquito breeding spots every Sunday, starting from next week.

More than 1,000 volunteers will fan out across Singapore, knocking on doors to remind residents to carry out checks, such as changing water in vases and overturning containers.

They will not inspect homes but may help to clear potential breeding sites in public areas.

At the same time, the NEA will also introduce a "traffic light" colour-coded banners in dengue clusters. There will be three alert levels - red, yellow and green - to indicate the severity of the situation and the steps that will be taken.

These efforts are part of the NEA's "Do The Mozzie Wipeout" campaign, unveiled on Tuesday as weekly dengue infections hit 492 last week, a record high this year.

Experts have warned that the dengue situation could worsen as the typical peak dengue season - during the hotter months of May to August - approaches.

The NEA said its campaign comes at a "crucial moment when community support is critical to stop the chain of dengue transmission".

"If everybody does it together in a concerted manner, it is one way in which we can gather as a community to help break the transmission cycle, break the mosquito breeding cycle as well as break dengue transmission in the localised community," said NEA director-general of public health Derek Ho at Tuesday's event.

Residential areas account for 67 per cent of breeding areas detected despite the NEA sending out 850 officers to inspect homes, distribute pamphlets and fine offenders when larvae are found.

To help roll out the new campaign, the agency, which has around 800 volunteers, will rope in more people by enlisting the help of community partners such as the People's Association.

About 200 will attend a workshop on Satuday to learn about the virus, how it is transmitted and its common breeding spots.

To further raise public vigilance against dengue, the NEA's new " traffic light" scheme will inform residents of the situation in their area. For instance, an active cluster with less than 10 cases will be labelled yellow, while red signals a high-risk area with more than 10 cases.

Banners will be put up in the affected areas and reminders will be issued to residents to advise them on the appropriate measures to take.

If no new cases are found in a span of two weeks, the area will be declared "green".

Facebook, Twitter, bloggers and app developers will all be called upon by the NEA in its bid to raise awareness.

Housewife Julie Lim, who lives at Tampines Street 91, which is near a dengue hot spot, is all for the new campaign.

Said the 53-year-old: "I have stopped keeping potted plants. I also check my pails and basins every day. So it won't be a hassle for me.

"Every day is a mozzie wipeout day for me."

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