Tuesday, 1 March 2016

$200 fine for homes found breeding mosquitoes from 14 Mar 2016

$200 fine for anyone caught breeding mozzies
Tougher action against home owners from March 14, to tackle dengue and Zika threats
By Tan Weizhen, The Straits Times, 29 Feb 2016

With an expected spike in dengue cases this year and the threat of the Zika virus, enforcement will be stepped up against homes found to be breeding mosquitoes.

From March 14, all homes - whether they are within or outside dengue clusters - will be fined $200 if they are found to be breeding mosquitoes. Currently, only homes within dengue clusters are fined $200, with homes outside not fined at all.

"We have to send this strong signal to everyone to do their part," said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli yesterday at the launch of an annual campaign to get people to eliminate mosquito breeding.

"The majority of the breeding places are still found in homes, the usual places again and again, and therefore we will be toughening our approach towards home owners."

Dengue cases this year could hit a high of 30,000 due to warmer weather, more mosquitoes and a change in the type of prevailing dengue virus, which would cause a spike in cases, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). This would be higher than the previous record of 22,170 cases in 2013, it said.

In January, the NEA has conducted more than 126,000 inspections islandwide, and found more than 1,900 cases of mosquito breeding. In the week ended Feb 20, 593 dengue cases were reported.

Adding to worries is the Zika virus, which is linked to under-developed brains in babies. It has been spreading across the Americas at an alarming rate, prompting the Ministry of Health to issue a statement last month on steps it would take if the virus entered Singapore.

Like dengue, the Zika virus is carried by the Aedes mosquito.

Yesterday, Mr Masagos, an MP for Tampines GRC, gave out brochures and mosquito sprays in Tampines as part of the launch of the "Do the mozzie wipeout" campaign in five districts. It was brought forward from its usual yearly launch around March to June.

Residents were urged to actively clear their homes of any mosquito breeding over a continuous 14-day period - equivalent to two breeding cycles of mosquitoes.

As part of efforts to step up public education, more than 5,000 grassroots leaders and People's Association Community Emergency and Response Team volunteers will be trained to conduct house visits.

This adds to the more than 5,800 grassroots leaders and volunteers already trained by the NEA.

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Posted by Stop Dengue Now on Thursday, February 4, 2016

Residents say they welcome the move to extend enforcement.

Tampines resident Tan Moh Lan, 65, said: "A lot of my neighbours have many flower pots lying along the corridors, and I'm not sure if they make the effort to check for mosquito breeding. We can't be the ones warning our neighbours, so it's good that the Government has stricter enforcement."

Mr Mickel Tan, one of the volunteers, is optimistic that such efforts are working. The 48-year-old said: "These days, residents seem more pre-emptive rather than reactive. They will share what they did to prevent mosquito breeding."

#masagos launched this year’s “Do The Mozzie Wipeout” Campaign at Tampines West Community Club today. The campaign was...
Posted by Masagos Zulkifli on Saturday, February 27, 2016

Get ready to pay a fine of $200 if your home is found to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes, regardless of whether your residence is within or outside dengue clusters, says NEA.
Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, February 27, 2016

Home owners back new dengue rules
By Dominic Teo, The Straits Times, 2 Mar 2016

Several people who fell victim to dengue or had family members who contracted it said they supported the recent move to stiffen penalties for those found to have mosquitoes breeding in their homes.

About 10 people The Straits Times spoke to said they supported the decision as they felt it was important to resolve the dengue problem before it spread to other parts of the neighbourhood.

From March 14, a home owner will be fined $200 if mosquitoes are found breeding in the premises, regardless of whether the house is in a dengue cluster or not.

Previously, only home owners in dengue clusters were fined.

Singapore Management University undergraduate Ko Ding Wei, 20, said he was surprised to find that, in the past, only those caught breeding mosquitoes in a dengue cluster were fined. He contracted dengue in 2008, despite not living in a dengue cluster. He said: "It's better to solve the problem early before it starts to spread."

Mr Segar Gopal, 48, who is self-employed, lives in Sing Avenue - off Rangoon Road - a dengue cluster in the past. He said: "Without the fine, many people wouldn't be bothered to keep their homes mosquito-free. Innocent people would get dengue because of other people's carelessness." Mr Segar's sister and her two children contracted dengue after visiting him in November last year, despite his efforts to keep his home mosquito-free.

The latest push against dengue by the National Environment Agency (NEA) comes after it said two weeks ago that dengue could hit an all-time high of 30,000 cases this year due, in part, to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

According to the NEA, most cases of mosquito breeding are in homes. It reported 513 new dengue cases in the week ending Feb 27, a fall of 80 cases from the previous week. Since Jan 3, 4,548 people have been infected and there have been two deaths.

Mr James Lee, 52, a director at a firm that sells mobility devices, was fined 10 years ago after a toilet in his house was found to be a breeding ground for mosquito larvae.

Since then, he has been more careful about making sure there is no stagnant water at home.

Others, however, felt more could be done to fight the dengue scourge. Retired secretary Winnie Tan, 62, who lives in Upper East Coast Road, said tougher quarantine measures should be put in place.

She contracted dengue three years ago, but her condition was initially determined to be not serious enough to ward her. So, she went home and went about her daily activities. She said: "I now realise I could have infected others."

For Mr Lee, despite doing his best to keep his home mosquito-free, his son, mother-in-law and maid contracted dengue three years ago. He said: "A $200 fine is tough, but medical expenses and, possibly, a family member dying, are even worse."

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