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Fewer dengue cases in S’pore, but more in South West District

SINGAPORE — Although the number of dengue cases in Singapore in the first 18 weeks of the year was down 15 per cent from last year, the South West District has seen an increase of more than 50 per cent, possibly due to low immunity levels against DEN-1 among its residents.

SINGAPORE — Although the number of dengue cases in Singapore in the first 18 weeks of the year was down 15 per cent from last year, the South West District has seen an increase of more than 50 per cent, possibly due to low immunity levels against DEN-1 among its residents.

Senior Minister of State (Health and Manpower) Amy Khor, who is also Mayor of the district, said that despite the high number of dengue cases last year, the Singapore population still has a low immunity to DEN-1, the current predominant dengue serotype. This is possibly the case in South West District, which previously had few hot spots.

“The fact is that dengue is endemic and there is no vaccination. Therefore, the best way to protect ourselves and minimise the number of dengue cases would be to constantly remind our residents to be vigilant,” said Dr Khor, who was speaking at the launch of the annual Operation Mozzie-Free in the district yesterday.

Statistics published by the Ministry of Health showed there were 5,030 cases in the first 18 weeks of this year — down roughly 15 per cent from 5,894 cases in the same period last year.

But in the South West District — which covers Choa Chu Kang, West Coast and Jurong — there were 698 dengue cases in the first 18 weeks of the year, a 57 per cent increase from 443 cases in the same period last year. The National Environment Agency (NEA) said there were three active clusters in the district as of Thursday.

Last year, the number of dengue cases hit a historic high of 22,170, which prompted the NEA to recruit more officers to carry out checks on residential and non-residential premises to identify mosquito breeding habitats and educate people on dengue prevention.

A spokesperson said the authority expected a similar increase in dengue cases in the middle of this year and would maintain its current manpower levels.

The NEA is also rolling out Gravitraps, which trap female Aedes mosquitoes to capture data on mosquito population to improve vector control.

As part of Operation Mozzie-Free, informative wall decals will be displayed in prominent areas, such as community clubs and centres, libraries and heartland malls, to raise awareness on dengue prevention.

In view of the fact that about 70 per cent of breeding spots found last year were in residential areas, 5,000 households located in potential dengue hot spots will receive Dengue Fighter Kits containing items such as insect repellent, pipettes and small transparent containers to use when checking for mosquito breeding.

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