Life in a dengue hot spot: Residents shun playgrounds and keep windows shut

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SINGAPORE - The playground at The Creek @ Bukit and many of the public areas in the condominium in Toh Tuck Road have been quiet over the past two months.

Windows are shut, blinds are drawn, and the poolside is almost vacant as residents try to avoid getting bitten by Aedes mosquitoes.

As at Friday (May 13), 78 people within the low-rise apartment complex have been infected with dengue.

"Since late March, we've been hearing of more people down with dengue in the condo group chat. At my block of five storeys, each floor has at least one person with dengue," said condo resident Catherine Lim, 60.

The piano teacher and her husband were infected in mid-April.

The estate is located within Singapore's current largest dengue cluster in the Eng Kong, Cheng Soon and Toh Tuck areas in Bukit Timah, which has seen more than 350 cases this year.

Over the past five months, dengue cases in the country have climbed faster than in the same periods in previous years, and Singapore is in an emergency phase.

So far, more than 8,500 cases have been recorded this year, surpassing the 5,258 for the whole of last year. The surge has come even before the traditional peak dengue season between June and October.

There are currently 280 active clusters islandwide.

The second-largest cluster in the Woodlands Crescent and Woodlands Rise areas has logged more than 320 cases this year as at Friday. Within the cluster, blocks 780C and 780D in Woodlands Crescent were the worst hit, with 74 infections in total.

When cases appeared in the estate a few months ago, some residents even draped mosquito nets around their windows.

Ms Ruzainah Seman, 28, who lives in a four-room flat in Block 780D, has stopped allowing her 10-year-old son and two-year-old daughter to go to the playground for a few months now.

"They complained of boredom, but I can only entertain them with toys," she added.

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