As we delight at the fact that our Covid-19 cases have gone down to single digits, we should remember that we’re still in the midst of another plague — dengue.
And the number of dengue cases are still high, with 530 cases in the week ending 10 Oct.
In fact, here’s a fact that shows the dengue outbreak in Singapore should be taken just as seriously as the Covid-19 pandemic:
28 people have died from dengue in Singapore this year — the exact same number of people who’ve died from Covid-19.
28 fatalities from dengue this year have been reported by the Ministry of Health (MOH), according to The Straits Times.
That’s the highest number of dengue deaths Singapore has ever reported.
The previous high was recorded in 2005, when 25 passed away from the disease.
The youngest of the victims was just 25 years old. The oldest was 92.
Strikingly, 7 deaths – one-quarter of the total – happened since Sept 5, MOH said.
That may be because we’re still experiencing the annual peak season of dengue, which is from May to October.
The weather is warmer during these months, which helps the Aedes aegypti mosquito reproduce faster.
As these mosquitoes spread dengue, warmer weather typically causes dengue to spread more easily.
Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan highlighted the alarming increase in mosquito population in a Facebook post on Monday (12 Sep).
He said that the Aedes population has risen for 5 consecutive weeks — which isn’t a good sign, obviously.
He also said that while the number of dengue cases per week has thankfully declined, the decline in the last 4 weeks isn’t as fast as it was.
Since the peak of 1,792 cases in July, case numbers have gone down by 70%. However, the number is still high.
Here’s a chart from the National Environment Agency (NEA) showing the number of cases recorded in the last 6 weeks:
Mr Tan is worried about the still-high number of cases as the end of the year is coming, and if we continue to have a high number of cases next year, another bad outbreak will happen.
This year’s already Singapore’s worst year for dengue, with the number of cases hitting an all-time high of 31,338 in 41 weeks.
The previous high was 22,170 cases, recorded in the entire 2013.
Here’s an NEA chart comparing the numbers for this year against those from the last 4 years. See the red line for 2020:
Form the chart, it’s clear that since March, our weekly case count has consistently eclipsed that of corresponding weeks of the last 5 years.
And at week 41, it’s still more than twice as high as any of the corresponding weeks in 2016-2019.
Seeing as our dengue saga isn’t ending anytime soon, Mr Tan has urged Singaporeans to be vigilant, especially if they’re living in dengue clusters.
That means we should try to:
Just like getting Covid-19, catching dengue is no joke, as some survivors have described their ordeals in detail.
The fact that the death rate’s just as bad as Covid-19, at least in Singapore, should prompt us to take the above precautions.
If you’re wearing a mask and keeping your distance from others to prevent Covid-19, there’s no reason why you should be slack when it comes to dengue.
Let’s all do our part to ensure these twin diseases don’t harm any more Singaporeans.
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Featured images adapted from Facebook.
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