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NEA inspections reveal 6,500 breeding grounds

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Around 900 households fined by NEA for mosquito breeding

More than 372,000 inspections were carried out by the National Environment Agency (NEA) in the first five months of this year to check on mosquito breeding across the country amid a surge in dengue cases.

In about 6,500 of these, mosquito breeding habitats were found, NEA said in a statement yesterday. Around 900 households were fined for breeding mosquitoes.

The two largest clusters for dengue are both in Woodlands, including Woodlands Avenue 6, Woodlands Circle, Woodlands Crescent and Woodlands Ring Road. Together they accounted for 360 cases.

Other large clusters were found in Geylang, including Guillemard Road and Sims Avenue (115 cases); Chai Chee (112 cases); and the Thomson area, including Jalan Lembah Thomson, Soo Chow Rise and Upper Thomson Road near Lakeview (99 cases).

In these areas, 74 per cent of the breeding occurred in homes, with the figure being 85 per cent in the top cluster. This is much higher than the national average of 60 per cent.

As of 3pm on Friday, there had been 5,534 dengue cases this year, about four times the figure in the same period last year. For the week ending that day, there were 467 cases of dengue fever - the highest weekly number since March 2016.

Five people have died from dengue so far this year. An 84-year-old woman who lived in Geylang Lorong 6 - in one of the largest active dengue clusters - was the latest person to die, on June 14.

NEA said that while the five clusters have accounted for the bulk of the increase in dengue cases, there has been a "general uptrend" islandwide.

"The dengue transmission is therefore not localised, and everyone has to be alert to the threat," it added.

According to health and environment experts, low immunity among the population against the current dengue virus may be contributing to a surge in infections. They have also raised concerns about patients who are over 65.

A study published last month that reviewed dengue hospitalisations showed a higher proportion of dengue patients hospitalised from 2003 to 2017 were the elderly. In 2017, 47.2 per cent of dengue patients admitted to hospitals were aged 65 and above.

This group, who tend to suffer more, typically do not display the usual dengue symptoms like fever, body aches and rash and by the time they are diagnosed, the disease could have already become severe.

To combat this, the authorities have been urging doctors to keep a keen eye out for dengue among the elderly.

In its statement yesterday, NEA warned that during the warmer months of June to October, a national collective effort is critical to prevent dengue cases from rising further.

"All residents living in cluster areas are strongly encouraged to cooperate with NEA officers, and facilitate their checks and indoor misting in their homes," NEA said.