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Dengue claims first victim of the year

SINGAPORE — The dengue epidemic Singapore has grappled with for the past 12 months has claimed its first victim this year — a 59-year-old Chinese woman who died yesterday.

SINGAPORE — The dengue epidemic Singapore has grappled with for the past 12 months has claimed its first victim this year — a 59-year-old Chinese woman who died yesterday.

The woman lived at Tampines Street 32 — currently not classified as a dengue cluster — and was diagnosed with dengue at Changi General Hospital on Dec 30. Under a collaboration between the two hospitals to manage dengue patients, she was transferred to Gleneagles Hospital for treatment but died after her condition deteriorated, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a joint statement yesterday.

The number of people falling ill from dengue is unusually high for this time of the year, with 437 cases detected last week. The number of dengue cases usually peaks between the months of May and October.

As of 3.30pm yesterday, 241 more cases have been detected since Sunday, according to the MOH’s figures.

More than 22,000 people were infected with the mosquito-borne disease last year, with seven fatalities — the worst dengue outbreak Singapore has experienced so far.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan last night urged the public not to let their guard down as the “dengue crisis” is not over, and that they can play a part in reducing the number of mosquito breeding spots.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Singapore Sustainability Symposium, where he said a nationwide consultation exercise will be held to seek public feedback before culminating with a revised Sustainable Singapore blueprint at the end of this year, Dr Balakrishnan said there are “no short cuts and no magic bullet” to deal with dengue.

Asked if penalties should be raised for those caught breeding mosquitoes, he said he would rather focus on “education, collaboration and action on the ground”. “Whilst there needs to be penalties, I don’t want to rely on the punitive aspects to solve a community challenge which requires all of us to do our part to protect our own homes and our own families,” he said.

As of yesterday, there were 65 active dengue clusters in Singapore — an increase of 15 from Monday. Seven areas, including Bartley and Geylang, are defined as “high risk”, with 10 or more cases.

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