WE applaud the efforts taken by the government in implementing the movement control order and the national lockdown, which was initially from June 1 to June 14 but has since been extended by another fortnight.
We can see that the lockdown has helped to reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases, and we hope that along with the vaccination programme and other efforts, we will be able to flatten the infection curve and move to a healthier position soon.
However, as owners/managers of companies that offer services for treating ponds, water features and swimming pools, we are concerned about the effects of the extended lockdown.
Our applications to be allowed to continue providing our service to clients with these water features have either been rejected or not processed at all.
For the first two weeks of the national lockdown, effects of not performing water treatment have not been noticeable except for the algae that were starting to grow.
But in all that time, the chemical used for treating the water (chlorine) was dissolving. Pretty soon, it will come to the point where it would be safe enough for mosquitoes to start laying eggs in the water!
The Aedes mosquito, which spreads the life-threatening dengue fever, has a life cycle of between eight and 10 days. Without chemical treatment of the water, there may be thousands of pools, water features and fountains across Malaysia now that are potential breeding grounds for Aedes mosquitoes.
As we enter the second period of the lockdown and with the majority of residents now confined to their homes, their exposure to mosquito bites would be increased.
From our understanding, property holders are required under Act 154 (Destruction of Disease-Bearing Insects Act 1975) to take every reasonable measure to ensure that they prevent Aedes mosquitoes from breeding in their compound and that action would be taken against them if they failed to comply.
As such, it is this writer’s understanding that service providers are providing an essential service to help property holders meet their statutory requirements.
Many property holders are not equipped to perform the servicing and water treatment activities themselves. They do not have the chemical required nor expertise to handle it. Insufficient knowledge of the systems in use and resources (manpower) available further complicates the situation.
The people most at risk of getting dengue will be the ones who could have helped to reduce the threat in the first place – the service workers. One can only wonder what will happen if the lockdown is extended for a third two-week period.
It would be distressing to see all the great efforts in reducing the threat of Covid-19 being undone by a different form of public health issue – an outbreak of dengue.