GEORGE TOWN, June 25 — Penang recorded 283 cases of dengue fever from January till the 24th epidemiological week (until June 19), an increase of 30 per cent compared to the same period last year which was 217 cases.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said as a result, the state government is continuing its strategic efforts to combat the menace including the empowerment of 136 Communication Behavioural Impact (COMBI) teams throughout the state as well Wolbachia bearing Aedes mosquito release projects in dengue fever hotspots.

"The increase in dengue cases cannot be viewed lightly and the trend has been sharp since the 19th epidemiological week, we believe the reopening of the economic sector in the transition phase to Covid-19 endemicity and unpredictable weather conditions as well as the type of dengue virus serotype cycle in the community are the factors contributing to the rise.

"Carelessness and not maintaining cleanliness are among the biggest contributors, based on information from the local authorities. They often organise cleanliness campaigns in hotspots but the response has not been very encouraging," he said here today.

He said this when met by reporters after officiating the state-level Asean Dengue Day and Gotong Royong Mega 1.0 Anti-Aedes event at Dewan Majlis Pengurusan Komuniti Kampung Sungai Gelugor here. Also present was State Health Department director, Dr Ma'arof Sudin.

Meanwhile, Ma'arof said his department had taken immediate action by releasing mosquitoes containing Wolbachia bacteria in three locations, namely Bukit Gedung in the Southwest district, Taman Manggis in the North East District and Inderawasih, Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) which saw a decrease in cases up to 99 per cent.

He said apart from that, the department would also identify two more localities in the North East and North Seberang Perai (SPU) districts to release these mosquitoes soon but the number depended on the size of the area involved.

"The Wolbachia bearing Aedes mosquito is a sterile mosquito that can inhibit the reproduction of Aedes mosquitoes and it can also control the mosquito population from spreading the dengue virus," he said.

He said cumulatively, there were 16 dengue outbreak localities in Penang, namely seven in SPT, five in the Northeast, three in SPU and one in the Southwest, but no deaths had been recorded in Penang over the past two years.

"Meanwhile, for Chikungunya cases, there has been a decrease of 75.68 per cent from January to June 18, with only nine cases reported compared to 37 cases during the same period last year," he said, adding that there were no active Chikungunya outbreak localities reported in the state so far. — Bernama