15 deaths from dengue so far this year, highest in a decade
Latest six deaths reported since end-July, even as number of dengue cases continue to drop
Six more people have died from dengue, bringing the total number of dengue deaths this year to 15 - the highest toll in more than a decade.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday that it was notified of the six deaths after its last joint update with the National Environment Agency (NEA) on July 29, about eight weeks ago.
Its spokesman told The New Paper that all six victims resided in or near an active or previously active dengue cluster, but she was unable to give further details.
"Although most dengue patients recover from the infection, elderly patients and those with concurrent medical conditions are at higher risk of developing complications that can lead to death," she said.
Previous media reports said there were five dengue deaths last year, two in 2017, 12 in 2016 and six in 2015.
In 2007, 24 people died, the last time there were more deaths than this year.
This latest spike in fatalities comes even as the number of reported cases a week continues to fall from its peak.
NEA's website shows 330 reported cases in the first week of this month, down from a high of 666 cases in the second week of July.
As of Aug 24, the NEA had closed 863 of the 1,021 dengue clusters formed this year.
A dengue cluster is formed when two or more cases occur within 14 days and are located within 150m of each other.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told Parliament earlier this month that mayors, grassroots advisers, community leaders and dengue prevention volunteers had stepped up public education campaigns, which contributed to the drop in clusters and cases.
There were still 92 active clusters as of Sept 13, with 26 classified as high-risk areas with 10 or more cases.
Of the three largest clusters, two are in Choa Chu Kang, with a total of 227 reported cases. Two condominiums accounted for 100 of them - 67 cases in Northvale and 33 in The Warren.
These numbers do not reflect the current situation because the number of reported cases have dropped significantly compared with a few weeks ago, said MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC Zaqy Mohamad, who looks after the Keat Hong ward where the two clusters are located.
He told TNP that the two clusters now have only one to two cases a week.
MOH also confirmed that none of the 15 deceased resided in Choa Chu Kang.
Mr Zaqy, who is also Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, said: "The grassroots have done quite a lot with the NEA... In fact, they have been quite aggressive."
For example, the neighbourhood committees for Northvale and The Warren have been working with NEA by going door to door to check which units had not been visited or had not been responsive.
This is the first time the estates have been hit by a dengue outbreak, so awareness among residents was not high, Mr Zaqy said.
"The focus has really been on working with NEA and residents to ensure that homes are clear of any potential breeding sites."
Singapore is currently in peak dengue season, which typically stretches from June to October.
MOH said there had been 11,490 reported cases of dengue as of Sept 7. This is more than three times last year's total of 3,285 and four times 2017's total of 2,772.
Of the 8,200 mosquito breeding habitats uncovered by the NEA in the first half of the year, 60 per cent were found in residential premises.
This figure rises to 70 per cent in dengue cluster areas.