Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) has said the number of reported dengue cases reached an all-time high of 492 in the week from April 7-13.

The last time numbers reached such levels was in July 2007, when weekly figures hit as high as 426 cases.

So far this year, more than 4,300 people have been diagnosed with dengue but there have been no deaths.

Singapore in 2005 experienced a type 1 virus outbreak with a total of about 14,000 people infected with dengue fever and 25 were killed.

Outbreaks of dengue fever, type 2 virus, happened in 2007 with a total of more than 8,800 people infected.

Associate Professor Leo Yee Sin, one of the foremost dengue experts in Singapore, told The Sunday Times: "We really have to anticipate that we will have a big-time dengue epidemic this year."

Unless transmission of the virus is halted, the number of infections could more than double by the middle of the year, said Leo. This is because in the approaching hotter months, both the virus and mosquito replicate about twice as fast and can spread the disease more rapidly. If that ratio still holds true today, it would mean that more than 80,000 people have actually been infected this year.

An NEA spokesman said expenditure on dengue control this year will exceed last year's 72 million SGD and it now has 850 officers doing nothing but dengue inspections.

The NEA has advised residents, especially those living in “hot clusters”, to step up dengue prevention measures by checking for stagnant water in their homes at least once a week.-VNA