Mosquito Hunter: I killed 200 mozzies in 5 days
Kang Choo Bin Walk resident on mission to prove severity of mosquito problem in his neighbourhood
Mr Chan is out for blood - mosquito blood to be specific.
His weapon of choice - a partially broken fly swatter.
The 41-year-old engineer has become somewhat of a mosquito's worst nightmare after he started killing mosquitoes in his landed home in Keng Choo Bin Walk in Hougang about two weeks ago.
He told The New Paper last week: "Over the first five days, I've easily killed over 200 mosquitoes.
"I thought that there were many mosquitoes in this area, but I didn't expect to actually kill so many."
Mr Chan lives just one street from an active dengue cluster at Poh Huat Road West. More than a week ago, a 73-year-old woman living there died of dengue fever.
He said he keeps a mental count of the number of mosquitoes he kills daily and has even collected some of his "kills".
"When you swat them so many times a day, you can keep track," he said.
Mr Chan believes that the vacant school buildings behind his home might be contributing to the estate's mosquito woes.
Other residents approached by TNP agreed that the mosquito problem seems to be getting worse. (See report below.)
MOZZIE HUNTER: Mr Chan showing the mosquitoes he has killed, which are kept in neatly folded squares of tissue with the dates written on them.
Mr Chan declined to give his full name as he is worried that neighbours might blame him if the National Environment Agency (NEA) finds mosquitoes in their homes.
He said he had contacted the agency twice, but was directed to the Singapore Land Authority the first time as the vacant school sits on state land.
After his second call, Mr Chan said NEA officers went to his home to check for mosquito larvae and took away his previous days' "collection" of about 30 dead mosquitoes.
When TNP met Mr Chan at his home last week, he showed us his "kills", which he kept neatly folded between squares of tissue paper.
BLACK-AND- WHITE STRIPES
Some of the dead mosquitoes had black-and-white stripes, which are distinctive of the Aedes mosquitoes that can carry the dengue virus, according to the NEA website.
Mr Chan said: "These are just the ones that are whole, sometimes they're so badly squashed that you can't pick them up. So I'm sure there were more."
His household of six people has had to cope with the mozzie problem since moving there almost 10 years ago.
But a week before Chinese New Year, they noticed a sudden increase in the number of mosquitoes and bites.
Mr Chan also showed TNP his family's extensive collection of mosquito repellent products and said they have tried all sorts of ways to ward off the insects, but to no avail.
He said his family always makes sure to get rid of stagnant water around the house to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding.
"Six months ago, we also installed ceiling fans in every room. It's helped a bit because I think the breeze chases the mosquitoes away. Only the garang (Malay for fierce) mosquitoes will go against the wind," he said.
Mr Chan started documenting the number of his "kills" when he was on leave about two weeks ago, as proof of his claims before he approached the NEA.
"I figured that I needed some kind of evidence. I can't just give (NEA) a number off the top of my head," he said.
Mr Chan added that he is worried most about the health of his two young children and elderly parents.
His family initially thought that his "collections" were disgusting, but once they understood the rationale behind them, they were supportive, he said.
During the 20-minute interview, Mr Chan's eyes were constantly darting around the living room, to try to spot mosquitoes.
"Fortunately, none of us has contracted dengue, but we hope something can be done before it's too late," he said.
"As you can see, we've all become a little paranoid and we're always on the lookout for mosquitoes.
"Once we feel something land on us, we'll whack, even if it means hitting ourselves."
These are just the ones that are whole, sometimes they're so badly squashed that you can't pick them up. So I'm sure there were more. - Mr Chan, on his collection of mosquito 'kills'
RESIDENT: TWO DENGUE CASES IN PAST YEARS
MOZZIE HUNTER: Kang Choo Bin Walk resident Julie Tan and her two children, Elijah and Inez Lim. She said her husband contracted dengue in 2014.
Neighbours living in Kang Choo Bin Walk said they have noticed more mosquitoes in the estate over the last few weeks.
Madam Julie Tan, 47, who works in sales, told The New Paper: "We've noticed that we're getting more bites. At night, we sometimes hear them buzzing near our ears. Sometimes we even wear insect repellent at home."
The mother of two children, aged 14 and 11, who has been living there for almost five years, said her husband fell sick with dengue in 2014.
A housewife living in the estate, who gave her name as Ms Winnie, 45, said that at least two residents had contracted dengue in past years.
She said her family has tried various ways to prevent mosquitoes from biting them, but none has been successful.
"Mosquito repellent sprays, mosquito coils, lemon grass diffusers, I've tried them all. We've just learnt to live with the problem," she said.
"Of course, if something can be done to solve it, that would be best because there are a lot of children and elderly in this estate."
Another resident, a retiree who wanted to be known only as Mr Chor, 70, said the NEA recently went to a vacant house next to his to check for mosquitoes and found larvae breeding in a pond.
"I think that was the main problem for my family, so I hope the problem gets resolved now that the habitat is destroyed," he said.
NEA: ONE BREEDING HABITAT DESTROYED
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it received three instances of feedback on the mosquito situation at Kang Choo Bin Walk in March.
Responding to queries from The New Paper, its spokesman said the mosquito specimens collected from Mr Chan were identified to be from the Culex species, which do not transmit dengue or chikungunya.
So far, one mosquito breeding habitat in the area has been found and destroyed and NEA will continue to work with stakeholders there to check for other breeding habitats, the spokesman added.
The NEA will also continue to conduct misting to kill adult mosquitoes in the area, when necessary.
In February, the agency warned that Singapore might see its worst dengue outbreak this year.
A perfect storm of factors, including warmer weather providing perfect mosquito breeding conditions, and a switch in the predominant dengue strain, could threaten to push numbers over the 30,000 mark, it said.
Four deaths from dengue have been reported in Singapore so far this year.
In response to TNP's queries, a spokesman for the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said that it does regular maintenance and vector works, such as sweeping of drains and clearing of leaves, to prevent and treat potential mosquito breeding habitats in vacant state properties, such as the school compound behind Kang Choo Bin Walk.
"In the case of the former Parry and Rosyth Schools at Kang Choo Bin Road, we have stepped up our vector control efforts, particularly since these state properties are located near dengue cluster areas," the SLA spokesman said.