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.


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