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Private hospitals, elderly centres step up efforts to protect patients from Zika

SINGAPORE — There were 38 new cases of the locally-transmitted Zika virus as of noon on Friday (Sept 2), bringing the total number of cases to 189, as some private hospitals and elderly centres stepped up efforts to protect patients, including buying mosquito nets.

Private hospitals, elderly centres step up efforts to protect patients from Zika

Nurses at Farrer Park Hospital setting up a mosquito tent over a bed as part of measures for patients suspected of having Zika. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong

SINGAPORE — There were 38 new cases of the locally-transmitted Zika virus as of noon on Friday (Sept 2), bringing the total number of cases to 189, as some private hospitals and elderly centres stepped up efforts to protect patients, including buying mosquito nets.

Of the new cases, 34 were linked to the Aljunied Crescent-Sims Drive, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way clusters, said the Ministry of Health and the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a joint statement.

The four other cases have no known links to any existing clusters.

No new areas were identified on Friday to have been linked to these Zika patients. For now, cases have been found in the Aljunied Crescent-Sims Drive, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way cluster, and Bedok North Avenue 3. Individual cases were also identified in areas such as Tagore Avenue, Yishun Street 81, Harvey Crescent, Joo Seng Road and Punggol Way.

As of Thursday, the NEA said 55 breeding habitats have been detected and destroyed, as its officers continued with the indoor spraying of insecticides, outdoor fogging, oiling and flushing of drains. The agency is also conducting outreach efforts in the expanded cluster areas in Paya Lebar Way and Kallang Way.

Similar efforts, as well as vector control operations, have also begun in the potential cluster at Bedok North Avenue 3.

Meanwhile, hospitals, community homes and senior activity centres are also taking steps to keep the Zika virus at bay.

Mr Phua Tien Beng, chairman of the task force at Parkway Pantai Singapore Operations Division, said a Zika task force has been set up to manage the virus threat at its hospitals and primary care clinics.

Its hospitals — Mount Elizabeth, Mount Elizabeth Novena, Gleneagles and Parkway East Hospitals — are screening patients and staff suspected of having Zika, as well as providing Zika virus testing for their patients.

The hospitals have also assigned designated wards for the isolation of suspected and confirmed cases.

Farrer Park Hospital brought in mosquito nets for any suspected cases in their facility, while mosquito repellent vaporisers have also been installed at the entrances of the hospital wards. The hospital is also stepping up its mosquito surveillance efforts by conducting daily checks of its gardens, instead of the usual once every two days. It now also conducts weekly misting of pesticides, instead of doing it every month.

Over at Geylang East Home for the Aged, its chairman, Mr Low Meng Cher, said after news of the Zika cases broke that his staff have been taking the temperatures of the seniors at the centre daily, and distributing mosquito patches to them.

The two Thye Hua Kwan (THK) Senior Activity Centres, located near or within the affected areas of Aljunied Crescent-Sims Drive and Bedok North Avenue 3, have also been working with grassroots volunteers to help spread information about the virus.

Ms Sng Yan Ling, THK Moral Charities divisional director of elderly services, added: “Some of the elderly who are living alone, when they come down to the centre and if we identify them (to have Zika symptoms), we are probably the first line of people to encourage them to go see the doctor.”

The Ang Mo Kio-THK Hospital has also put up notices around its wards to remind caregivers and visitors to be mindful of Zika symptoms.

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