FOLK in a dengue fever hotspot in Ayer Itam, Penang, ganged up for a gotong-royong to nip the outbreak in the bud after getting three cases within 20 days.
Coming together to clean up their open spaces, field and play area, some 80 residents of all ages in an apartment block picked up food wrappers, plastic bags, dried leaves and rubbish scattered in their area.
The voluntary fire and rescue squad and Penang Island City Council pitched in by cleaning the walls and drains with high pressured water jets, while even the trees were trimmed.
Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng Soon Siang said they were at the Desa Mawar apartment complex to have their first gotong-royong for the year as it was a hotspot in Ayer Itam for Aedes mosquitoes.
“They say Ayer Itam is a hotspot, but it is this area that has the most cases, so we usually have a weekly meeting to discuss dengue.
“We held gotong-royong activities here before but this is the first time especially since the movement control order, such a big group has come forward to help clean up the place.
“While observing the standard operating procedures in view on the Covid-19 pandemic, residents must also keep their homes and surroundings clean, ” he said at the event yesterday.
Ng gave out leaflets on dengue and how to prevent Aedes mosquitoes from breeding.
“I also came up with an initiative with the help of fish breeders in Ayer Itam.
“We are giving away Siamese fighting fish for those who wish to keep them at home as they eat mosquito larvae.
“These are fish stocks that will not be sold as they are not of the highest grade but they are good to keep at home.
“You can keep them in an aquarium as they are helpful and will be good for the home.
“They are available at my service centre. Those interested can come get them, ” he said.
Ng said it was a way of fighting Aedes mosquitoes as well as saving fish that will be culled.
Though this year’s outbreak is not as bad as last year’s, Penang recorded 23 new dengue cases between June 7 and 13.
The cumulative number of cases compared with the same period last year had dropped from 2,892 to only 410 this year.
On top of dengue, however, there are 212 Chikungunya fever cases in Penang this year.
This is also spread by Aedes mosquitoes.