The National Environment Agency (NEA) has earlier called for stepped-up community action against dengue – necessary even during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) circuit breaker period. The total number of dengue cases in 2020 has exceeded 6,000 – more than double that over the same period in 2019. The number of weekly dengue cases remains high, hovering around 300 to 400 cases per week, and continues to be a public health concern. Given the current situation, we must maintain vigilance and sustain our vector control efforts, especially as we enter the warmer months ahead.
MTI Granting “Time-Limited Exemptions” (TLEs) to Owners of Premises to Take Mosquito Preventive Measures
In view of the extension of the circuit breaker period for COVID-19 by another four weeks until 1 June 2020 (inclusive), NEA has been working with the Ministry of Trade & Industry (MTI) to ensure that pest control operators (PCOs) can continue with their critical vector control works, as vector control services are classified as essential services during the circuit breaker period.
With the extension of the circuit breaker period, NEA urges all owners of premises, especially those for construction and renovation sites which have a propensity for water pooling that allows for larger mosquito breeding habitats, to apply for “Time-Limited Exemptions (TLEs)”, to allow their workers to return to their premises to perform essential mosquito prevention measures during this period. These tasks include:
- Ensuring proper housekeeping within compounds;
- Ensuring routine pest control checks and treatments are sustained to prevent mosquito breeding (especially at construction and renovation sites, even if these are closed during this period);
- Removing all unwanted, water-bearing receptacles;
- Covering toilet bowls;
- Ensuring drains are free from chokage and stagnant water;
- Adding sand granular insecticide (temephos) or Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) insecticide, or applying anti-mosquito oil to stagnant water bodies that cannot be removed; and
- Closing windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering, etc.
For further information on MTI’s “Time-Limited Exemptions (TLEs)”, owners of premises can go to covid.gobusiness.gov.sg.
NEA would like to remind all businesses and owners of premises to ensure that adequate vector control measures are taken at all premises under their responsibility, even if certain operations may be on hold during this circuit breaker period. This includes construction sites, offices and commercial buildings, shops, entertainment outlets, nurseries, farms, schools, and places of worship. NEA is also embarking on a stepped-up inspection regime of various construction sites, prioritising hotspots which are located in dengue clusters or have previous record of mosquito breeding. This posture will be maintained for the entire duration of the Circuit Breaker period.
NEA has also reached out to all members of the Inter-Agency Dengue Taskforce (IADTF), Singapore Contractors Association Ltd. (SCAL) and operators of dormitories, for vector control activities to be sustained during this period. As more people are working from home during this circuit breaker period, homeowners and occupants are also reminded to pay more attention to any mosquito breeding or adult mosquitoes present in their homes, and to take the necessary steps to prevent or remove them.
Under the Control of Vectors and Pesticides Act (CVPA), any owner or occupier whose premises create conditions favourable for the propagation of vectors may be subjected to the following. In the first case, a fine of up to $5,000, or imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both. In the second or subsequent convictions, a fine of up to $10,000, or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both. For owners and occupiers issued with an order under CVPA, the penalty for failure to comply with the order is as follows. In the first case, a fine of up to $20,000, or imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both. In the second or subsequent convictions, a fine of up to $50,000, or imprisonment of up to 6 months, or both.
All stakeholders, including residents, contractors, and business owners, have a part to play in preventing dengue. The latest updates can also be found on the NEA website, Stop Dengue Now Facebook page, and myENV app.