Tuesday, November 29, 2005

To the NEA: No resting on laurels - yet !!!

Sent to Feedback Unit - MCYS on 29 Nov 2005:
Hi Izan,

Thank you for your email.

I am disappointed that NEA would not be responding to me on my query. Does it mean that since NEA have taken steps to contain the recent outbreak, they will stop answering questions raised by the public? Mind you, the outbreak has not been contained yet even if the number of cases has dropped. I don't think NEA would like to give the impression that they have successfully contained the outbreak just because they have met their goal of halving the number of cases. Do they need reminding that there are still some 145 dengue cases weekly (the week of Nov 20th), hardly considered "contained".

All I wanted to know was whether NEA would be publishing the list of breeding clusters on its website (just like the current practice of publishing a listing of dengue clusters on its website). I strongly feel this piece of information is very useful and helpful too for the public so that everyone can do his or her part by being extra vigilant if he or she happens to be staying in the affected areas.

Is it that difficult to answer?

As Dr Yaacob himself pleaded, everyone has a part to play in fighting dengue, so efforts to contain the disease must be ongoing. Therefore, no resting on laurels - yet.


Izan SIDEK wrote:

Dear Mr Ho

Thank you for your feedback dated 28 Nov 2005 which has already been forwarded to NEA.

2. Please be informed that NEA have taken the necessary steps to contain any outbreak. As such, NEA shall not be replying to you.

Thank you


Izan Sidek (Mr),
Executive Officer, Feedback Unit
DID: (65) 6354 8044
Fax: (65) 6354 8128
Website: www.feedback.gov.sg

Monday, November 28, 2005

Straits Times (23 Nov 2005) - Early action plan to stop a repeat dengue outbreak

cc: Lee Hui Chieh - Straits Times

Date: 28 Nov 2005

I refer to the article, "Early action plan to stop a repeat dengue outbreak" in the Straits Times of 23 Nov 2005.

The pro-active approach to be taken by the NEA in identifying threshhold breeding clusters before an outbreak is a step in the right direction, and I applaud them for their efforts.

I would however suggest they go one step further in publishing these areas when they become available so that residents living in and around these areas can be more vigilant.

Just like the publication of the dengue clusters has been instrumental in bringing the number of dengue cases down from its peak a few months back, this new list (breeding clusters) will also serve to prevent such clsuters from turning into dengue clusters when pro-active measures are taken before they get worse.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Stagnant water at drain/sump pit near the junction of Gentle/Buckley Roads & outside 45A Gilstead Road

Reply from NEA on 25 Nov 2005:

Kindly refer to your email appended below.

Our investigation showed that the level of the sump pit at the junction of
Gentle Rd and Buckley Road has since been raised. The stagnation of water is due to the clogged connecting covered drain in the area.

As for the drain in front of 45A Gilstead Road, the stagnation of water is due to some hardened cement in the drain.

We have requested the relevant authority to flush the closed drain at Buckley Road and and rectify the problem of hardened cement at Gilstead Rd.

In the meantime, we will continue to oil the site regularly to prevent mosquito breeding at the sites.

Thank you for the feedback.

Best regards
Nordin SulaimanManager (Tg Pagar GRC2)·
Sanitation and Vector Control· Central RegionalOffice·
National Environment Agency·
DID+65 62639312 Fax+65 62739641

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stagnant water at drain/sump pit near the junction of Gentle/Buckley Roads & outside 45A Gilstead Road

Sent to NEA:

Hi - Photos taken on 17 Nov attached. Can the relevant authorities please take the necessary action to remove stagnant water at the following locations - especially the sump pit at the Gentle/Buckley Road junction to be raised as it causes perpetual stagnation of water? Thanks.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Vacant properties at 47/49 Moonstone Lane & Upper Serangoon Road - Singapore Aerated Water (opposite the old Upper Serangoon Fire Station)

Contributor's email forwarded to NEA on 7 Nov 2005:

To the officer-in-change,

I noticed there is an increase in the number of mosquitos in my estate - 31 Moonstone Lane. There have been two cases of dengue in my estate in the last year. One of which one happens to be my wife. Would the authorities please check on the vacant factory along Upper Serangoon Road - Singapore Aerated Water (opposite the old Upper Serangoon Fire Station). You will notice crates of bottles all stacked up in the front of the vacant factory. The factory seems to be unattended for many years already and I am not surprised if it is a breeding ground for mosquites.

There are two more vacant warehouse on the left of 31 Moonstone Lane. Believe they are 47/49 Moonstone Lane. Appreciate if the authorities could look into it as well.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Choked drain at Chancery Lane - across the road from Chancery Grove main entrance


Please clear the choked drain at Chancery Lane. You will note the stagnant water is almost 3-inches deep! Thanks


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Straits Times (4 Nov 2005) - One man's strategy against dengue pays off in Serangoon

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Today (2 Nov 2005) - Reply from PUB: Drains built to allow natural drainage

Drains built to allow natural drainage

Letter from Yap Kheng Guan
Director, Drainage
Public Utilities Board (PUB)

PUB thanks Mr Jeffrey Ho Loon Poh for his letter "Drains in S'pore just do not drain", (Oct 29).

.In Singapore, we tend to experience short but heavy bursts of rain. As such, our drains are designed to handle high volumes of water efficiently.

.We agree with Mr Ho that drains should be designed, taking advantage of the natural gradient of the ground as much as possible.

.However, where the grounds are steep, such as at the Adam Road/PIE ramp mentioned by Mr Ho, a steep drain will cause the rain water to flow very rapidly which can cause flooding at the bottom of the slope during a heavy downpour.

.We have therefore designed the drains there in tiers instead, to break the flow of water so as to prevent a rush of water at the bottom.

.All drains are designed with a gradient, including the tiered drains at the Adam Road/PIE ramp.

.This allows the water to be drained naturally by gravity.

.PUB and NEA have inspected the drains at the locations mentioned by Mr Ho and found that there were natural flows of water there.

.This may not be apparent to the naked eye or in a still photo. There were some silt deposits which impeded the flow slightly but these have been removed.

.PUB is aware that there are some old drains where the gradient is too gentle and we have a programme to review and systematically upgrade these old drains.

.Similarly, these works are also being carried out by town councils for drains managed by them, such as those in common corridors and carparks.

.Stagnant water is often caused by fallen branches, rubbish, clods of earth and so on, that obstruct the flow of water.

.The public can assist by alerting NEA at 1800 225 5632 and PUB-One at 1800 284 6600 to such blockages and refrain from littering.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Electric New Paper (30 Oct 2005) - Jurong West Street 41 - 24 dengue cases within 2 weeks

To: The New Paper
cc : NEA

Your 30 Oct article, "Jurong West becomes S'pore's ..." refers (attached below).

It was reported that, "It is unlikely, though, that the hole would be breeding ground because the area is fogged regularly."

I would like to point out that this is misleading as fogging does not render the stagnant water in the hole to be a non-breeding ground for the mosquitoes as fogging only kills adult mosquitoes, not larvae in the stagnant water.

Perhaps NEA can comment on this? We do not want readers/residents lulled into a false sense of security after reading thiis report.




Electric New Paper

Jurong West becomes S'pore's...

Panic street

Bird flu FEAR: 12 mynahs found dead

Dengue DANGER: 24 cases within 2 weeks on same street

THIS could be the hottest of Singapore's dengue hotspots - Jurong West Street 41.

By Tan Hsien Chong

30 October 2005

THIS could be the hottest of Singapore's dengue hotspots - Jurong West Street 41.

It is a small street off Jurong West Avenue 1 near Jurong Lake, and home to the latest person to die of dengue, part-time cleaner K S Goh, 65.

His death on Wednesday morning brings the official dengue toll in Singapore to 19 this year.

One case does not a hotspot make, but just look at these other facts:
Since 17 Oct, at least 24 new cases of dengue were reported in the area .

There has been an average of two new cases a day.

Going by figures on the NEA website, the Jurong West Street 41 area may have the largest number of new cases reported over this period.

A dengue cluster is formed when two or more cases occur within two weeks of each other and the homes of the victims are not more than 150m apart.

So scaredcoffee shop owner is MOVING OUT & GIVING UP

MOSQUITOS have driven one man out of his business and his home.
To most, this might sound like a joke.

But mozzies are no laughing matter for Mr Mike Lee, 54, or anyone else at Jurong West Street 41.

The final straw for the coffee shop owner was when he discovered that one of his customers died from dengue fever. At the end of this month, he plans to pack up his business.


He will also move out of his flat.

Both the coffee shop and the flat are in Block 482 at Jurong West Street, which has become a dengue hotspot.

Since 17 Oct, at least 24 new cases of dengue have been reported in the area.
And Mr Lee is nervous.

Just three days ago, one of his regular customers, part-time cleaner K S Goh, 65, died from the disease.

It was the 19th dengue death in Singapore this year.

Mr Lee told The New Paper, in Mandarin: 'Yes, he (Mr Goh) used to come here to eat. I just called him 'uncle'. I didn't know his name.'

Asked if he was serious about abandoning a business that started only six months ago, he replied: 'What? You think I'm joking?

'Why don't you come back in a few days and see if I'm still here?'
The New Paper checked the Chinese papers this week and found that he had indeed placed advertisements for someone to take over the coffee shop.


He said: 'I'm scared. There are so many dengue cases. You hear about one case here, one case there.

'If you get bitten you may just die. I don't have that much money to spend on doctors.'
Mr Lee is not the only one nervous about the dengue outbreak.

He said they have scared off his customers and affected his business.

'They tell me they don't like to sit around outside. It's dangerous. They might get bitten.'
Over the past two months, his business has dropped by 30 to 40 per cent. He said he could not even afford the rent, which works out to $150 a day.

The New Paper visited the shop on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. A regular customer, a 50-year-old unemployed man who wanted to be known only as Ah Tan, said he stopped hanging around the shop after dark for fear of mosquitoes.

He said in Mandarin: 'These insects come out at night. I'm scared.'
He is wrong. The Aedes mosquito, which carries the virus, usually bites in the day, though it can also attack under artificial light at night. Ah Tan added that he had been a regular at the shop for a few months. He lives nearby.

He said: 'A few months ago, there would be maybe 20 to 30 people here during dinner. Nowadays, there is hardly anyone.'

Could be any other reason for business to be so bad? Mr Lee replied, deadpan: 'Yes. Maybe my cooking is very bad.'


Both times The New Paper was there, the dessert stall was closed and only the drinks stall was open.

The cooked food stall operates only at mealtimes.

The rows of cigarette boxes usually on display at the drinks stall had been removed.
Mr Lee spends his day sitting at a table, reading the papers or watching a Chinese drama serial on the coffee shop television set.

Now and then, he gets up and walks around.

Once, he pointed at someone in the carpark and said: 'Look, there's his (dengue victim Mr Goh's) wife.'

Dressed completely in black, she was walking with one of her daughters towards her husband's wake.

From his coffee shop, Mr Lee can see all that goes on in the street.
He hears all the dengue stories, both the real ones and the rumours that can take a life of their own.

He sometimes gets wind about 'those construction workers who got bitten last month', or 'that vegetable seller who was another victim but just recovered from dengue'.

But dengue is no spectator sport. And Mr Lee has had enough of such depressing stories.
He said: 'I had moved into a flat in the same block as the shop because I was working here.
'Now that the shop is closing, I'm going to move out too.'
He said he had not yet found a new place to live and was not sure where he would set up shop again.

When told that there were dengue cases in other areas too, such as Tampines and Toa Payoh, he laughed and waved it off.

'Aiyah, those are small cases lah. Nothing compared to here.'

She keeps futile vigil over danger hole

EVERY day, supermarket cashier Haslinda Hashim, 22, looks out of her third-storey flat at a pool of stagnant water below.

The sight worries her.

She recently recovered from dengue fever and she is concerned that mosquitoes might breed in the pool.

There is some construction work being done on her block, and the project has left a 3m-by-3m hole in the ground (pictured above). The hole is always filled with water.

It is unlikely, though, that the hole would be breeding ground because the area is fogged regularly.

Ms Haslinda fell ill about three weeks ago, and went to see a doctor. 'I was giddy and nauseous and I had high fever,' she said.

When she did not get better after resting for a few days, she went to see the doctor again, and he said she might be suffering from dengue.

On 11 Oct, she was hospitalised.

Ms Haslinda said: 'Luckily I went in time. I stayed in hospital for five days. Then I got better, and went home and had six days MC. But I was still very weak.'

This close call has made her more alert to the dangers of dengue. She is also aware that there have been many cases reported on Jurong West Street 41, where she lives.

She said: 'I don't really know why there are so many (cases) here. Maybe it's because there is a lot of construction work going on around here.'Though worried, she does not know what she can do about it.

'It's the area, not inside my house,' she said. 'I can't do anything about it.'

Asked why she has not contacted the authorities, she said she thought someone else might have done so already.

Like her, a 50-year-old housewife, who wanted to be known only as Madam Liew, expressed helplessness.


She said: 'I know that there are some dengue cases in the area. But I really don't know what to do to prevent these problems.'

Others, however, feel they should do whatever they can.

'We are conscious that there are a lot of cases in the area, and we know that it has been on the hotspot listing,' said Ms Naeema Begum, 24, a teacher at Twinkle Mind Childcare in Block 478.
'We check the children for bites every day. And we make sure that no stagnant water collects in the potted plants.'

She said none of the kids at the centre had come down with dengue so far.
Ms Haslinda is especially worried about her 4-year-old son, Muhd Ashrabb.
She said: 'My son always gets bitten because he likes to sleep near the window.
'Every night before I sleep I spray insecticide.'

Housewife Huang Si Xiu, 58, who lives in Block 480, shares similar concerns.
She said: 'I'm worried, especially for my grandson. I bought covers for all my bamboo pole holders.'

She said she knew three people in neighbouring blocks who had suffered from dengue. All of them have since recovered.

Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.