Orchard dengue slows but damage is done

AL FRESCO NO-GO: Restaurant Brotzeit, located at 313@somerset, has seen business slow down by 30 to 40 per cent.


    Nov 22, 2013

    Orchard dengue slows but damage is done

    BUSINESSES along mosquito-ridden Orchard Road

    may soon get some relief - the dengue scourge looks to be on its last legs there.

    But the damage may already have been done.

    The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday that there were only two new dengue cases and no new breeding sites detected there, in the two weeks ending on Wednesday. NEA is expected to consider the cluster closed if there are no further cases by next Friday.

    Still, as a precaution, NEA will carry out more misting and fogging operations in the area.

    This is cold comfort for businesses, which painted a bleak picture of people avoiding the area in the run-up to the festive season, when sales typically peak. The biggest losers so far? Al fresco joints.

    Interviews with 10 businesses found that four - all outdoor ones - have seen a drop of up to 40 per cent in sales since early last month, when the retail stretch was first flagged as a dengue hot spot.

    They expect the slowdown to continue, following news of another dengue death two days ago.

    Restaurant Brotzeit has seen business slow down by 30 to 40 per cent, instead of the pick-up that usually happens around this period, said supervisor Jomel Panopio, 26.

    The Oriole Bar and Cafe currently gets about 130 customers on weekdays, a 20 per cent drop from the same time last year.

    It is the same story at Charlie Brown Cafe and The House of Robert Timms.

    Mr Panopio said a customer even expressed concern that the fountains at the 313@somerset entrance nearby could be a potential breeding spot when the water flow is shut off at night.

    He said: "I tried to explain that it takes a few days for the dengue larvae to grow, but I am not sure if it allayed his fears."

    Of NEA's assurances, he said: "All we can do is hope."

    At Outdoors Cafe and Bar near Emerald Hill, staff will continue to use insect repellent and burn mosquito coils daily.

    The Orchard Road cluster has accounted for a total of 99 dengue cases as of yesterday.

    There are also other clusters in the area, such as the Devonshire Road and Anthony-Cairnhill Circle Road clusters, with 14 and six cases respectively.

    So far, 142 people have been infected in or around Orchard Road, 11 in the past fortnight.