A recent news report with the headline ‘Johor may check vehicles from Singapore for mosquitoes’ unfortunately drew chuckles on the social media. Readers chose to take a comic interpretation of the report, and Johor’s Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat was ridiculed.
The report, which was published on Aug 29, quoted Ayub as saying: “There is a possibility that Aedes mosquitoes can be brought into the country on buses, cars or motorcycles. Bus drivers and transport companies should take proactive measures to spray insecticide to rid their vehicles of mosquitoes.”
He said the standard operating procedure to check and pull aside travellers who arrive at checkpoints with a high temperature would be maintained. He didn’t say every vehicle would be closely inspected for mosquitoes.
Readers, who didn’t go beyond the headline, had a field day mocking him. They visualised our health officers checking for mosquitoes in every vehicle and swatting them so that these vectors couldn’t bring the dreaded Zika virus to our shores.
What Ayub meant was more stringent checks and turning away people with temperatures above 37°C. He also urged transport operators, who have vehicles going to Singapore and back, to spray them with disinfectant and insect repellent as a safety precaution.
“So one way is to wind down the window and ‘shoo’ it out or protect yourself with an insect repellent. Even a vehicle which is left at home can have a mosquito trapped inside,” he was quoted as saying in another report.
He was unfortunately mocked by those who didn’t take the effort to read the news first before commenting. Then there were those who said this was predictable as our country was not managed by the best brains but those loyal to the top.
Such sweeping statements are now commonly shared. It is disparaging to write out any person in authority. It defies logic and it shows a lack of common sense and appreciation for those tasked with ensuring our wellbeing.
In the latest development, the Singapore Ministry of Health has announced a pregnant woman living in the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive area was tested positive for Zika virus infection
The ministry a doctor is following up the case closely to monitor her health and the development of her baby.
“She will be referred to a maternal-foetal medicine specialist for counselling and advice,” said the Ministry.
The total number of cases identified in Singapore since Saturday was 115. That is no laughing matter.
There is a team of medical staff, including a doctor, working in shifts round-the-clock at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at the Sultan Iskandar Building in Johor Baru. They are tasked with the almost impossible duty of ensuring the virus is not transmitted to this side of the border by vectors and affected people.