Singapore

Bats flying into Upper Boon Keng Road flats do not carry infectious strains of coronavirus

The bats that have been flying into flats in Block 14 Upper Boon Keng Road do not carry virulent strains of the coronavirus, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo said yesterday.

Mrs Teo, who is an MP for Jalan Besar GRC where the block is located, said some residents had alerted her to the bats, which live in nearby fruit trees.

Since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, people have grown concerned about the presence of bats, a source of the coronavirus.

A World Health Organisation scientist had said in May that Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19, comes from a group of viruses that originate or spread in bats.

Mrs Teo said in a Facebook post: "Our residents were concerned about the possibility of bats being disease carriers and not knowing the proper way to 'usher' these 'guests' out of their homes."

She added that her team had contacted the National Parks Board (NParks), which sent an officer and a bat research specialist to visit the affected residents.

They assured the residents that the bats do not have virulent strains of the coronavirus and also explained the important ecological roles of bats as pollinators and in controlling insect populations.

Mrs Teo said the officers taught residents how to deter bats from flying into their units by using methods such as hanging shiny objects like CDs at entrance points and installing a magnetic fly mesh or insect netting at the windows.

The town council also pruned the nearby fruit trees to encourage the bats to create their homes away from residential units.

"I hope that our residents are more assured, and have better ideas how to prevent future occurrence(s) of such unwelcomed visits," Mrs Teo wrote.

She advised those who encounter similar issues to call the NParks Animal Management Centre on 1800-476-1600 for immediate assistance. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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