Dengue cases expected to surpass 1,000 a week
The Straits Times
By Salma Khalik
SINGAPORE - The number of dengue infections is rising at a faster rate and is expected to top 1,000 infections a week - possibly as soon as this week.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said this is worrying because Singapore is just entering the dengue season, which usually runs from June to August.
So far this year, 9,544 people have fallen ill and two men have died from the disease.
Concerned over the way things are shaping up, Dr Balakrishnan and Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health, held a joint press conference yesterday.
Dr Balakrishnan warned that the worst is yet to come. Should the full-blown epidemic shift from the east, where it now is, to the west - and early indications point to that happening - "the numbers will shoot through the roof", he said.
As it is, the dengue clusters this year are bigger than usual and active for a longer period.
The National Environment Agency's (NEA) head, Mr Andrew Tan, said it will step up efforts by recruiting 300 more officers to add to its current pool of 850. This will allow all homes in active clusters to be inspected within a week.
Dr Balakrishnan also urged people to open their doors to the inspectors, as these visits help to protect them. To make it more convenient, inspectors can also check homes at night or at the weekend.
NEA used its legislative powers to get a locksmith to open 10 homes this year when residents did not respond to notices sent to them. But efforts by the Government alone will not be enough to win the fight against dengue. People must stop being complacent and take an active role, said Dr Balakrishnan.