Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) given the success of Project Wolbachia in the pilots in Chua Chu Kang, Yishun and Tampines, what are the plans to expand the project into other areas including residential and industrial estates; and (b) whether there has been any studies done on the long-term ecological impact related to the release of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes and the decline of mosquito population in general.
1 Project Wolbachia targets the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Prior to carrying out field releases, the National Environment Agency (NEA) carried out comprehensive risk assessments of the Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology, and determined it to be safe, with no risk to human health and insignificant risk to ecology and other mosquito species in our ecosystem. This conclusion is consistent with findings from other groups around the world that have also studied the impact of this technology. NEA's Dengue Expert Advisory Panel, comprising both local and international experts, including researchers, medical and healthcare professionals, have also recommended the use of Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology to further reduce the risk of dengue.
2 Project Wolbachia is being implemented using a phased approach to rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of the technology and assess deployment strategy. Thus far, we have achieved up to 98 per cent suppression of the primary mosquito vector of dengue and up to 88 per cent fewer dengue cases at pilot sites in Yishun, Tampines, Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok.
3 With the good results, the release of male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes has been expanded to more areas within Choa Chu Kang and Bukit Batok from October 2021. Releases at Tampines and Yishun will continue to be expanded and cover both towns entirely by the first quarter of 2022. Small-scale trials at landed residential estates in Marine Parade have also commenced in October 2021. Releases will be carried out at selected construction sites in Choa Chu Kang and Tampines as part of the strategy to test the technology in different terrains and landscapes. The results of these trials will inform the strategy for its future deployment in Singapore.