Written reply by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, to Parliamentary Question on Dengue in Bukit Batok East, on 6 April 2020
Ms Rahayu Mahzam: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether NEA has observed recurring dengue clusters in specific estates/areas in Bukit Batok East over the last five years; (b) if so, where are these specific estates/areas; and (c) what are the efforts in place to contain the spread of dengue in these estates/areas.
1 Between 2015 and 2019, 41 dengue clusters were reported in Bukit Batok East division. The top areas with frequently occurring clusters in the past 5 years include the landed residential estate at Jalan Jurong Kechil / Upper Bukit Timah Road / Chun Tin Road / Yuk Tong Avenue, as well as the public housing estates at Bukit Batok East Avenue 4 / Bukit Batok East Avenue 5 and Toh Guan Road. The largest cluster of 35 dengue cases in that period was reported in the Chun Tin Road/Jalan Jurong Kechil/Yuk Tong Avenue area in November/December 2018. As of 1 Apr 2020, there were nine clusters in the Bukit Batok East division this year, of which five have closed.
2 The National Environment Agency (NEA) addresses the risk of dengue transmission through a multi-pronged evidence-based approach. This is consistent across all clusters in Singapore, including Bukit Batok East. NEA conducts comprehensive surveillance of the mosquito population through its network of more than 64,000 Gravitraps. This allows NEA to target its vector control operations early and prioritise areas with higher mosquito population. NEA also adopts a preventive approach by conducting regular inspections for potential mosquito breeding habitats, and taking enforcement action against premises owners found to be breeding mosquitoes. NEA works closely with members of the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force (IADTF), including Town Councils, to step up vector control operations in dengue cluster areas. Dengue cluster alert banners and posters are also put up at the lift lobbies of HDB blocks to heighten residents’ awareness on the dengue situation. Residents living in cluster areas are urged to co-operate with NEA officers to allow them to carry out checks for mosquito breeding habitats. Residents can also apply mosquito repellent to protect themselves from mosquito bites, and spray insecticide in dark corners within their homes to kill adult mosquitoes.
3 Since 2019, NEA has published, on the NEA website and myENV app, information on areas with relatively higher Aedes aegypti mosquito population. In February 2020, a total of 103 areas were detected with higher Aedes aegypti mosquito population by NEA’s Gravitraps Surveillance System, including one in the Bukit Batok East division. Residents of Bukit Batok East and members of the public are encouraged to subscribe to the notification on dengue clusters and areas with higher Aedes aegypti mosquito population in the myENV app, and do their part to stem dengue transmission.
4 NEA has ongoing educational and publicity campaigns to promote community action to prevent dengue transmission. The annual National Dengue Prevention Campaign was launched on 22 March 2020, to rally the community to fight dengue ahead of the traditional mid-year peak dengue season. NEA also launched the SG Clean campaign to galvanise collective community action to keep our public spaces clean. The SG Clean campaign, which calls on members of public to adopt good public and personal hygiene habits, goes hand in hand with our fight against dengue. For instance, throwing litter into trash bins, to remove potential mosquito breeding habitats.
5 NEA alone cannot prevent dengue transmission in Singapore. NEA has observed a 50% increase in Aedes aegypti mosquito larval breeding habitats found in homes over the past three years, compared to the preceding three years. There is hence an urgent need for all stakeholders and home owners to step up their efforts to eradicate mosquito breeding habitats. Everyone must do their part to protect themselves and their loved ones from dengue.