Just one week after Singapore spotted this year’s first Zika cluster at Simon Place, authorities have confirmed a second cluster along Flower Road/ Hendry Close on Thursday.

A cluster is only spotted when at least two cases are reported within a span of 14 days and are located within 150m from one another. According to the National Environment Agency, the two new cases that were reported in the new cluster are residents in the area, where mosquito-control operations are already taking place.

NEA: Asymptomatic infections heightens risk of Zika resurgence

"I was likely bitten near my home,” said 46-year-old Hong Hai Cheng, one of the two individuals infected with Zika in Flower Road/ Hendry Close. She first noticed rashes all over her body on 30 March, and was diagnosed the next day after developing a mild fever.

“There's a drain on the premises of a nearby house, and water always collects there when it rains. I've tried to talk to the owner, but it seems no one is around,” she added.

Residents of Flower Road/ Hendry Close have been urged to remain vigilant and destroy any mosquito-breeding sites that they may find in the area. The NEA has also requested that residents allow agency officers into their homes to conduct inspections and indoor spraying.

"There could still be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases, which might result in further transmission of the virus if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity," said the agency.

“Most people infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms, which heightens the risk of a Zika resurgence as it may take some time before a reintroduced Zika virus is detected.”

While this is the second cluster reported in 2017, there have been a total of eight cases of Zika infection reported since January this year.

Health expert urges pregnant women to take precaution

Flower Road/ Hendry Close is located near Simon Place, where two individuals from the same household reportedly contracted Zika infection last week, forming Singapore’s first cluster of the year.

Following confirmation of the cluster in Simon Place, the NEA immediately commenced vector control operations and outreach activities, including indoor spraying of insecticides, outdoor thermal fogging and outdoor misting.

“As of Mar 29, NEA has inspected about 120 premises out of about 400 premises in the Simon Place cluster to check for mosquito breeding and also conducted ground checks in the vicinity," the NEA reported at the time.

The Zika clusters are located nearby each other. Photo credit: Straits Times
The Zika clusters are located nearby each other. Photo credit: Straits Times

"Ten breeding habitats - comprising seven in homes and three in common areas/other premises - have been detected and destroyed."

According to Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an expert in infectious diseases, it is difficult to interpret the significance of the four cases of Zika in and around Simon Place.

"Assuming that they are not related to the first couple, the cluster may be a cause for concern," he said. However, he hypothesized that the high rates reported may be because doctors practicing in the area are more vigilant in identifying symptoms and diagnosing patients with Zika infection.

"Still, I would caution pregnant women to avoid the area," Leong said. "If they have to go there, they should wear long sleeves and put on insect repellent." MIMS

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