Mosquito menace in Orchard Road
IN THE heart of Orchard Road, a strange scene unfolds regularly at a construction site next to Somerset MRT station.
Workers helping to build the Orchard Gateway mall first report at a station that has been set up.
Thermometers are whipped out and their temperatures taken.
Then, mosquito repellent is sprayed thoroughly over them. Only then does work start.
This is dengue territory, with the Somerset area near Orchard Road accounting for 19 cases. It's the first time in 12 years that a retail stretch has been flagged as a dengue hot spot, Lianhe Zaobao reported.
The Hyundai Engineering & Construction workers are especially vulnerable. So far, they have accounted for 16 of the 19 dengue cases in the cluster. And they are frightened.
Construction worker Asaduzzaman, 24, has already been hit once by the dengue virus. "My body hurt and I was very uncomfortable when I had dengue. I don't want it to happen again," he said.
A spokesman for Hyundai said a mosquito-breeding site was found under a concrete road barrier and another under a metal work platform.
The dengue cluster extends to areas on either side of Somerset Road, ending where the road merges into Grange Road.
Hangouts within the area include Scape Skate Park, 313@somerset and Orchard Central, while Cathay Cineleisure Orchard and The CentrePoint fall just outside the area.
And yet, shops and shoppers remain unaware or unfazed by the danger in their midst.
The Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) said that its stakeholders - which include Frasers Centrepoint and Lend Lease Retail - have not expressed concern over the issue so far, and it was business as usual.
"It is good that there are no dengue cases within the shopping centres that we know of so far," said Mr Steven Goh, executive director of Orba.
However, retailers said they would be worried if the number of dengue cases rises.
"I think shoppers, especially those with young children, might think twice about coming if many more cases are reported," said Ms Jutatip Chaiasa, 30, operator of MK Restaurants' 313@somerset outlet.
Ms Naz Khamin, 35, who works at florist Caterpillar in Orchard Central, said most people are probably still not aware of the dengue situation. However, she expected human traffic at the shopping centre to drop if word about it spreads.
So far, the only ones worried are the construction workers who have seen their colleagues suffer. They are relieved that the constant buzzing of mosquitoes has been reduced since measures were put in place to get rid of the breeding grounds.
They hope that it stays that way.