The war against dengue: Singapore is battle-ready

The number of dengue cases for the week ending June 29 has fallen to 807 from the allyear weekly high of 853, but the fight against the scourge is far from over.

Singapore may have 'reached a critical juncture' in the progress of the current dengue epidemic, but it is going all out in the war against the disease.

MOH - Ministry of Health

Ensure that there are enough beds to prepare for a surge in dengue cases.

There are about 120 dengue patients warded in public hospitals at any time, taking up 1.8 per cent of the total number of beds. Since March, the hospitals have added 160 beds, with 90 more expected by the end of the year.

These are beds set up at observation areas and along corridors, but they are fitted properly for hospital use.

NEA - National Environment Agency

Technologies

NEA's Environmental Health Institute (EHI) has a multi-disciplinary group of scientists and specialists looking at ways of reducing the mosquito population.

The institute has co-developed a spray canister that can be used by officers on the ground as part of their inspections.

This complements ultra-low volume misting for indoors and is expected to increase the coverage of areas and raise the productivity of mosquito-control operations.

Since last year, NEA has deployed Gravitraps, a device developed by EHI. It contains water to lure and trap female mosquitoes looking for breeding habitats.

EHI has also discovered that a diagnostic kit can be used to determine if the mosquitoes caught by the Gravitraps carry the dengue virus.

Besides developing new tools that can be deployed immediately, EHI actively monitors the development of new technologies in vector control, and evaluates the applicability of each technology in the context of Singapore's highly urbanised environment.

It is working with two groups, UK's Oxitec and Australia's Monash University, to release sterile male Aedes mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacterium.

The sterile males' mating with other mosquito would cause their population to decrease, while the bacterium prevents the growth of the dengue virus.

Foot soldiers

The NEA is on a recruitment drive to attract more Environmental Health Officers since April.

The agency began recruitment earlier this year to prepare for the dengue peak season, bringing the number of such officers to 850.

With the rising number of dengue cases, the NEA has intensified its recruitment efforts. It aims to have 300 more officers in the next two months.

Public hospitals - (CGH, NUH, KTPH, KKH)

1. With the rise in dengue cases coming into emergency rooms, NUH has expanded dengue outpatient monitoring capacity, with measures like increasing the number of consultation sessions.

2. About one in five is admitted.

3. Patients with a mild course of dengue infection are given appointments for their platelet levels to be monitored on an outpatient basis.

4. Reviewing and discharging patients who are medically fit or stable enough for transfer to nursing homes or community hospitals.

5. Prepared to reduce or postpone nonurgent elective surgery if necessary.


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