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Source: Asia Pacific Region 2 – Singapore

Enforcement will also be tightened for construction sites and Town Councils. NEA will continue to adopt a balanced approach between education and enforcement, as we work with the community in our collective fight against dengue.

Singapore, 22 June 2020 – As of 22 June 2020, there have been 12,542 reported dengue cases this year. The number of weekly dengue cases has also exceeded 1,000 in the week ending 13 June 2020. This is the highest number for the same period of the year since 2013, the largest outbreak year recorded in Singapore’s history. There has also been a significant increase in mosquito breeding found in homes – the breeding incidence rates in homes have increased by 50 per cent in the last three years compared to in the preceding three years.

2          More recently, a five-fold increase was noted in the incidence of Aedes mosquito larvae detected in homes and common corridors at residential areas during the two-month Circuit Breaker period, compared to in the two months prior. This is despite more people staying home and being in a position to upkeep their premises better, and comes after years of educational outreach on the prevention of mosquito breeding habitats at home. In the interest of public health and to protect every individual in the community, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will impose heavier penalties from 15 July 2020, for households found with repeated mosquito breeding offences, multiple mosquito breeding habitats detected during a single inspection, and mosquito breeding detected after having received a legal notice from NEA.

Enhanced penalties for mosquito breeding offences

3          Currently, households are issued a composition sum of $200 for mosquito breeding detected at their residential premises, regardless of the number of breeding habitats detected. Offenders are sent to Court for the fourth offence. From 15 July 2020, the composition sum will be increased for premises detected with multiple mosquito breeding habitats within the same inspection, or where mosquito breeding has been detected even after a legal notice has been served within a dengue cluster area. Repeat offenders will also be given heftier penalties or sent to Court. The details are as follows:

No. of offence(s) committed

Enhanced penalties

1st offence

· $200 for single mosquito breeding detected; or

· $300 for multiple mosquito breeding detected within the same inspection; or mosquito breeding detected after legal notice has been served.

2nd offence

· $300 for single mosquito breeding detected; or

· $400 for multiple mosquito breeding detected within the same inspection; or mosquito breeding detected after legal notice has been served.

3rd and subsequent offences

· Prosecution in Court, where offender may face a fine of up to $5,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months, or both, for the first court conviction.

 

4          The composition sums will also be raised for mosquito breeding at construction sites. Although there has been steady improvement in the number of mosquito breeding habitats detected at construction sites, mosquito breeding continues to be uncovered within construction sites[1]. Therefore, from 15 July 2020, the penalties will be enhanced as follows:

No. of offence(s) committed

Enhanced penalties

1st offence

· $3,000 (up from the current $2,000)

2nd offence

· $5,000 (up from the current $4,000)

3rd and subsequent offences

· Prosecution in Court (instead of the current $5,000), where offender may face a fine not exceeding $20,000, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months, or both, for the first court conviction.

5          NEA will also tighten enforcement for Town Councils (TCs) for mosquito breeding found in common mosquito breeding habitats, namely drains, and scupper/ gully traps, from 15 July 2020. It is important to enhance the housekeeping standards for these common outdoor breeding habitats. This tightened enforcement is in addition to existing penalties against mosquito breeding found in common habitats, such as roof tops, water tanks and discarded receptacles. Currently, TCs may be fined up to a maximum of $5,000 for mosquito breeding detected at dengue cluster areas.

6          Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Mr. Masagos Zulkifli, said, “The majority of mosquito breeding is found in residential homes. Immediate action by everyone is required.  Even as NEA continues to conduct home inspections and educate residents on what they can do to protect themselves and to prevent mosquito breeding at home, the number of dengue cases has continued to rise. This places about 325,000 households living in over 200 dengue clusters islandwide at higher risk of dengue transmission. We will tighten enforcement and increase penalties for mosquito breeding offences, including for recalcitrant offenders, to serve as a strong deterrent. Vector control remains key to eliminating potential mosquito breeding habitats and breaking the dengue transmission. We need urgent collective community effort to prevent this situation from worsening.”

Vector control is a key strategy with dengue endemic in Singapore

7          Dengue is endemic in Singapore and our population’s immunity to dengue is low. This will continue to be so, as a result of successful mosquito and dengue control efforts in the past decades. There are three main components in the transmission of dengue: the Dengue virus, the Aedes mosquito, and the human host. Removing any one of these components will halt the spread of dengue. Vector control is a key strategy given that our population will continue to have low immunity and we have limited control over other factors, like warmer weather, which is conducive for the faster multiplication of the Aedes mosquito and Dengue virus.

8          In anticipation of the surge in dengue cases this year, several new efforts[2] had been initiated by NEA earlier this year. NEA takes a multi-pronged approach to dengue control, comprising enforcement, vector control measures, stakeholder engagement, as well as community mobilisation and public communications. Our strategies at dengue clusters include continuous surveillance of Aedes mosquito populations through the deployment of Gravitraps, a regime of regular inspections of potential mosquito breeding habitats, and removal of mosquito breeding sources through intensive search-and-destroy operations.

9          Between January and May this year, NEA conducted more than 351,000 inspections islandwide, including 3,100 checks at construction sites, and uncovered about 8,600 mosquito breeding habitats[3]. During the same period, more than 1,200 enforcement actions were taken against owners of premises for mosquito breeding. 73 summonses and two Stop Work Orders (SWOs) were issued to construction sites, and four contractors will be charged in court for repeat offences[4]

10        Over the same period, NEA also issued about 6,200 legal notices to homeowners/ occupiers to make their premises available for inspection and vector control. While most residents understand the danger of dengue transmission and have been cooperative in facilitating our home inspections, there are instances when our NEA officers are unable to gain access to residential premises. If NEA officers are unable to access the premises and where urgent vector control is necessary, a legal notice under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act (CVPA) will be served to the occupiers, requiring them to open up their homes for inspection at a specified date and time. Thus far, the majority of those who received the legal notices have responded swiftly, and NEA has been able to access the units for inspection. In cases where premises continue to remain inaccessible or are vacant, NEA may need to gain entry by force after serving the legal notices, to ensure that any mosquito breeding habitats are quickly found and destroyed. (Refer to Annex A for pictures of NEA officers conducting home inspections.)

11        Preventive surveillance has also been stepped up at construction sites. NEA has inspected 90 per cent of the higher risk construction sites at least once since the beginning of the Circuit Breaker period, and our stakeholders have also stepped up to ensure that essential vector control works carried on during the Circuit Breaker period. All potential mosquito breeding habitats must either be removed or chemically treated to prevent mosquito breeding. NEA will not hesitate to take firm action against any construction site found with mosquito breeding. 

Dengue cluster situation update

12        As of 19 June 2020, 254 active dengue clusters have been reported. The five largest dengue clusters are located at Woodleigh Close, Leicester Road, Aljunied Road, Tampines Avenue 7, and Chu Lin Road. Some dengue clusters also have a faster rate of dengue transmission, such as the 157-case cluster at Leicester Road, 146-case cluster at Aljunied Road, 120-case cluster at Potong Pasir Avenue 1, 115-case cluster at Broadrick Road and 91-case cluster at Bukit Panjang Ring Road, with an average of about two to four cases reported per day in the past two weeks. (Refer to Annex B for a map of the dengue clusters. Refer to Annex C for information on the top five largest dengue clusters.)

13        NEA has been working with key stakeholders to conduct intensive vector control operations at dengue cluster areas. With the cooperation of members of the Inter-Agency Dengue Taskforce (IADTF) and general community, we have closed about 78 per cent, or 904 of 1,158, of the dengue clusters notified, since the start of this year. However, repeated mosquito breeding is still being detected at residential premises at the Woodleigh Close and Aljunied Road dengue clusters. There are also premises with multiple mosquito breeding detected in common breeding habitats, such as pails, dish trays, containers and flower pot plates, despite NEA’s constant reminders in our outreach materials to check these common habitats. NEA encourages everyone to use the resources available on our website and myENV app to receive updates on the dengue situation, and to take proactive action to protect yourself and your loved ones. NEA has also developed a ‘Check and Protect’ checklist, highlighting common mosquito breeding habitats, which is available for download at go.gov.sg/dengue-checklist. By removing mosquito breeding habitats quickly, we are able to break disease transmission earlier. 

14        NEA will also be stepping up outreach efforts at dengue cluster areas – including house visits and the distribution of mosquito repellent and outreach materials to residents. Volunteers and poster walkers will also be deployed at town centres at dengue cluster areas, to augment outreach efforts. At the same time, our SG Clean Ambassadors will distribute dengue prevention checklists at hawker centres, to reach out to the general community. These are in addition to ongoing efforts, which include dengue alert banners and posters, outreach via digital and mobile platforms, as well as SMS blasts at targeted dengue cluster areas.

Every individual has a part to play to break dengue transmission

15        Our Gravitrap surveillance system monitors the Aedes mosquito population at residential areas, and has detected a 20 per cent increase in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in May 2020, compared to in April 2020. As we have now entered the warmer months of the year, we anticipate an increase in the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, unless every individual urgently steps up now to prevent mosquito breeding, by removing stagnant water in their environment. There are simple and proactive things that residents can do to protect themselves and their loved ones, and break the dengue transmission chain.

16        All residents living in dengue cluster areas are strongly encouraged to cooperate with NEA officers, and facilitate their checks and indoor misting in their homes. As the Aedes aegypti mosquito has adapted well to the urban environment and dwells mainly in indoor spaces, it is critical to eradicate mosquito breeding habitats and adult mosquitoes in homes, to break disease transmission. Allowing NEA to access all homes in dengue cluster areas as quickly as possible helps keep your family members, neighbours and the community safe from being infected with dengue.

17        As we have entered the traditional dengue peak season, which could last from June to October, we seek the urgent cooperation of all residents and stakeholders to do their part to complement NEA’s efforts, by regularly doing the Mozzie Wipeout, and taking proactive measures such as using aerosol insecticide spray and mosquito repellent to protect themselves and their families. A concerted and collective effort is needed in our fight against dengue.

18        The latest updates on the dengue situation can be found on the NEA website, Stop Dengue Now Facebook page, and myENV app. The public can also download the myENV app to get regular alerts on dengue clusters and areas with higher Aedes aegypti mosquito population.



[1] Through concerted efforts by the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd. (SCAL) and industry leaders, fewer construction sites have been found to have mosquito breeding, and there has been a reduction of 30 per cent in Aedes larval breeding found at construction sites over the past three years. However, there was a two-fold increase observed in the incidence of Aedes mosquito larvae detected in construction sites during the two-month Circuit Breaker period, compared to in the two months prior. 

[3] Provisional figures as at 18 June 2020.

[4] Provisional figures as at 18 June 2020.

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For more information, please submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application. Alternatively, you contact us at 6225 5632.

Annex A

Photos of NEA Officers Conducting Dengue Control Operations

Officer checking flower pots and plates at a residential home

Officer checking gully trap at a residential home

Officer checking rim of a refuse bin at a residential home

Officer checking flower vase at a residential home

Officer checking pail of water at a residential home

Officer checking drain at a residential home

Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) misting at a residential home

Ultra-Low Volume (ULV) misting at a residential home

Legal notices from NEA at front gate of residential premises

Locksmith opening front gate of vacant premises under supervision of NEA officers

Body search of NEA officers before entering and exiting vacant premises

Inspection of water cistern at vacant premises

Officer conducting aerosol spraying at vacant premises

Officer applying larvicide to toilet bowl at vacant premises

Officer applying larvicide to water cistern at vacant premises

Annex B

Geographical Map Showing Dengue Clusters (as of 19 June 2020)

Interactive map available on NEA’s website:

https://www.nea.gov.sg/dengue-zika/dengue/dengue-clusters

Annex C

 

Inspection Findings at the Top Five Largest Dengue Clusters

Information as of 19 June 2020

S/N

Cluster locality

No. of cases

Date of notification

Proportion of mosquito breeding in homes

Premises detected with repeated mosquito breeding and/ or multiple mosquito breeding[1]

1

Woodleigh Cl (8@Woodleigh, Blossoms @ Woodleigh, Euro-Asia Pk, Parc Mondrian) / Woodleigh Ln, Pk / Youngberg Ter (Avon Pk)

– 211

– 31 Mar 2020

– 44%

– 2 premises detected with repeated breeding

2

Leicester Rd (Intero, One Leicester) / Meyappa Chettiar Rd (The Poiz Residences) / Potong Pasir Ave 1 (Blk 101, 102, 104-109, 121-127, 129-131, 133, 146, 148) / Potong Pasir Ave 2 / Potong Pasir Ave 2 (Blk 143-145) / Potong Pasir Ave 3 (Blk 134-142)

– 157

– 21 Apr 2020

– 57%

 

– 3 premises detected with multiple breeding

3

Aljunied Rd / Geylang Rd / Geylang East Ave 1 / Geylang East Ctrl (Blk 122) / Guillemard Rd / Jln Molek / Jln Suka / Lor 22, 24, 24A, 25A, 26, 27, 27A, 28, 29, 30, 32 Geylang / Sims Ave

– 146

– 21 Feb 2020

– 50%

– 2 premises detected with repeated breeding

4

Tampines Ave 7 (Blk 390-394,396) / Tampines St 32 (Blk 324,325,328,330,331,336,337,381,384-388) / Tampines St 33 (Blk 311,322,340,343,352,353,354,356-358) / Tampines St 34 (Blk 363,364,366-367A,370-374) / Tampines St 34 (The Eden at Tampines)

– 143

– 20 Apr 2020

– 59%

– 1 premises detected with multiple breeding

5

Chu Lin Rd / Chu Yen St / Elizabeth Dr / Elizabeth Dr (Hillvista) / Hillview Ave (Chantilly Rise, Hillbrooks, Hillview 128, Hillview Residence) / Jln Dermawan / Jln Gumilang / Jln Intan / Jln Remaja / Jln Zamrud / Lor Kemunchup

– 122

– 6 Mar 2020

– 83%

– 2 premises detected with multiple breeding



[1] Repeated breeding refers to breeding detected during a re-inspection. Multiple breeding refers to more than 1 breeding habitat detected during a single inspection.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News