Dengue cases surging, a worrying issue during circuit breaker
Expert says both Covid-19 and dengue situations need collective and community effort to protect ourselves
As if the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore is not worrying enough, dengue cases have also been surging.
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the number of dengue cases this year is nearly 5,800 as of April 18, more than double of what it was in the same period last year.
And with most Singaporeans staying home during the circuit breaker, mosquito breeding and pest infestations may be on the rise due to increased food consumption and preparation at home and poor housekeeping habits.
Doors, windows and balconies of homes are also being kept open longer for fresh air, and this increases the risk of mosquitoes entering the home.
It is therefore more vital than ever to step up control measures to prevent the spread of dengue, said Dr Chan Hiang Hao, a medical entomologist from pest control specialist Rentokil.
He told The New Paper that the company has seen a 200 per cent increase in inquiries for mosquito control since work-from-home measures started, with an average of 70 to 100 calls a week.
In March, Rentokil also received an average of 90 inquiries from businesses and individuals seeking surface disinfection services to remove bacteria and viruses, compared with 10 to 20 inquiries the month before.
Dr Chan said: "Both situations (dengue and Covid-19) are similar in terms of the need for a collective and community effort to control the number and protect ourselves.
"Both require adequate awareness of what dengue and Covid-19 are, how they are transmitted and what measures have to be taken diligently to keep the condition at bay.
"At this juncture, we should not subject ourselves to more health risks with additional diseases such as dengue, salmonella (often carried by cockroaches) and leptospirosis (carried by rats)."
He added: "With the traditional mid-year peak dengue season coming up, the public needs to take extra precautions to combat dengue."
Places with opportunities for mosquitoes to breed include drains, gully traps, potted plants, rainwater gutters or unchlorinated pools and ponds. Then there can be locations with poor housekeeping, where there are discarded containers, tyres, barrels, bottles and other items. And where there is greenery, mosquitoes may rest or breed in dry leaves and plant axils.
To prevent mosquito breeding at home, one effective measure is NEA's 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout, said Dr Chan.
Households are advised to remove mosquito-breeding sources such as blockages and unused containers that may contain stagnant water, or switch to contactless pest control devices such as Rentokil's In2Care Mosquito Trap.
Maintaining good housekeeping and sanitation practices also control the proliferation of pests such as ants and cockroaches, which may be elevated during this period.
This can be done by storing food in airtight containers, not leaving trash uncleared overnight, using bins with lids, cleaning up food or water spills and removing clutter.
You can also seal up cracks, crevices, gaps and holes in your home to prevent pests from entering, and repair leaking pipes to reduce water sources for the pests.
Dr Chan said: "For closed and vacated premises, there may be risks of stagnant water that can cause mosquito breeding as the environment is left unattended. Adult mosquitoes from these sites may fly to the surroundings and put others at risks of dengue.
"And if these premises cause a reduction in the food source, rodents might forage further for food, thereby increasing the risk of intrusion into the places, which were previously not their target."