Project Wolbachia, one of the country’s weapons in the fight against dengue fever, will be expanded to an additional 1,400 blocks of residential boards from July, Minister of Sustainability and Resources Grace Fu announced Wednesday. Did.

This means that a project currently active in 1,800 blocks will cover more than 300,000 units, which is almost double the current 160,000 units and about 31% of Singapore’s HDB blocks.

This arose in fear of an ever-increasing number of infections here, and Fu said the weekly number of cases could soon exceed 2,000.

She was organized by the Asian Dengue Voice and Action Group and gave a keynote speech at the 5th Asian Dengue Summit held at the Orchard Hotel from June 13th to 15th.

The first summit in Singapore brought together more than 200 clinicians, researchers, government public health leaders and policy makers from across Asia to discuss the region’s dengue management strategy.

As of June 14, more than 15,000 cases of dengue fever were reported in Singapore in 2022. The numbers are expected to increase further as the country enters the peak season of traditional dengue fever, which usually lasts from June to October.

“This urgent situation spreads the disease by allowing everyone, including individuals and facility owners, to be alert to stagnant water and potential mosquito breeding habitats on our homes and premises. I want to play my part to prevent it, “Fu said.

Professor Duane Gabler, chair of the dengue expert advisory board and professor emeritus at Duke-NUS Medical College, said that “business as usual” is not an option given the growing threat of dengue. Said.

“New technologies, including Wolbachia and the dengue vaccine, complement and enhance existing dengue control and provide new tools to prevent the spread of the disease epidemic,” he said.

Launched in 2016, the project will include the release of male Aedes aegypti infected with Wolbachia in selected locations. When a female Aedes aegypti, which is not infected with bacteria, mates with a male, it lays eggs that do not hatch and reduces the population of Aedes aegypti. Here it is the main vector of dengue fever.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Associate Professor Ng Lee Ching, Group Director of the National Environment Agency’s (NEA) Institute for Environmental Health, said that Project Wolbachia would bring “erasure effects” to its current deployment site in areas such as Tampines and Yishun. So far this year, up to 70% of dengue fever has occurred.

“Results from existing research sites show the effectiveness of Wolbachia technology in reducing Aedes aegypti populations in these areas,” she said.

Hu said the expansion of the trial, with Project Wolbachia being deployed in a total of 13 locations from the current five, will allow authorities to understand the impact of large-scale multi-site deployments.

Eight additional sites are Bedok North, Bedok Reservoir, Choa Chu Kang (Utility), Geylang, Hougang, Punggol, Sengkang and Woodlands.

The site was selected based on several factors such as past dengue risk levels, Aedes aegypti population, area size and landscape, and NEA’s ability to produce and release mosquitoes.

NEA plans to increase the number of male Wolbachia-Aedes aegypti produced per week to 5 million by the end of this year. ST photo: NG SOR LUAN

To help expand the project, she said NEA will increase the number of male Wolbachia-Aedes aegypti produced weekly from the current 2 million to 5 million by the end of this year.

He added that good environmental management to prevent mosquito breeding is the basis of NEA’s dengue control program and is complemented by strong partnerships across the public, private and people sectors. ..

People living in Singapore today are one-tenth more likely to get dengue fever than those here in the 1960s, the minister said.

But this also means that herd immunity to dengue fever is diminished here, she said.

Wolbachia’s technology is promising, but it is not an immediate one-stop solution to the problem of dengue fever. Fu said the technology will have the greatest impact when combined with existing community efforts.

“After all, individual and community responsibilities and actions remain the most important element of dengue control.”

Professor Gabler said: “Although the results observed in Project Wolbachia so far are promising, it is important for the Singaporean community to recognize that it is not the silver bullet that controls only dengue fever. Therefore, the community remains vigilant and dengue fever. It is important to take steps to combat. “

Grace Fu, Minister of the Ministry of Sustainability and Resources, states that weekly cases could soon exceed 2,000.Photo: ST file

At the summit on Wednesday, Associate Professor Daniel Goe of the Department of Pediatrics at the National University Hospital said June 15 was also ASEAN Dengue Day.

Dr. Go called the disease a global and regional threat and said it puts a heavy burden on public health, an area that is already addressing the evolving Covid-19 pandemic.

β€œTo address the growing trend of dengue fever requires commitment, cooperation, and, more importantly, a multi-sectoral, sustainable response from the public and private sector and government agencies, and more importantly, the affected communities.” He said.

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