SINGAPORE: A day after Singapore confirmed its first Zika cluster of the year, those living along Hemsley Avenue in Serangoon Gardens are doing what they can to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. 

All three cases of Zika announced on Friday involved residents at Hemsley Avenue. 

“I’m staying indoors and keeping my fingers crossed,” said resident Sabrina Lim on Saturday (Sep 14). 

The 48-year-old housewife also told her three children, who occasionally go to the nearby park, to stay home.

READ: Singapore reports first Zika cluster of the year after 3 cases in Serangoon Gardens

Hemsley Avenue is close to an existing eight-case dengue cluster at Bridport Avenue/Cowdray Avenue/Huddington Avenue/Portchester Avenue/Tavistock Avenue, which was notified on Aug 20.

Both Zika and dengue are spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

Another resident, Ms Genevieve Chabot, told CNA she has asked her privately contracted insect control company to come twice a month instead of once a month. 

bryan lincoln's garden

Resident Bryan Lincoln doesn’t use pot holders, and keeps fish in his pond to prevent stagnant water in his home. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

Her neighbour, Mr Bryan Lincoln, said that while he makes sure his many plants and three fountains do not contain stagnant water, he is still worried.

“There’s always worry. You might clean your place, but aedes mosquitoes can come from the nearby park, from the next road,” said the 78-year-old retiree. 

He added that he is also concerned about a small puddle of stagnant water in the neighbouring home that is being renovated.

According to Mr Lincoln, officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) visited his home on Saturday, and said the matter comes under the officers in charge of construction sites.

small puddle

A small puddle that worries resident Bryan Lincoln. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

Other residents have also bought mosquito repellent to protect themselves, and have taken to wearing long pants when they go out.

At the start and end of the row of houses along Hemsley Avenue, there were two large banners urging residents to get rid of stagnant water to fight dengue and Zika.

READ: Most dengue clusters closed, dengue cases down, says Masagos

NEA TO CONDUCT FOGGING

NEA said it started operations in the area to kill mosquito breeding habitats since the dengue cluster was notified in August. As of Friday, five breeding habitats in this dengue cluster have been destroyed, the agency added. 

Residents said officers checked their homes for mosquito breeding sties on Saturday. They also noticed men opening manhole covers to treat drainwater.

Notices put up in the area said fogging will be done on Sunday.

fogging notice

A notice on fogging in the area. (Photo: Jalelah Abu Baker)

The Zika virus has been associated with neurological diseases such as microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with a smaller head due to abnormalities in the development of the brain.

There have been a total of 10 Zika cases in Singapore this year, according to NEA’s website. Last year, one case of Zika was reported.

Singapore had its very first imported case of Zika in May 2016, and the first locally transmitted case came a few months later in August. By the end of that year, more than 450 people had been infected.