Haze causes increase in respiratory diseases in Kuching

Haze causes increase in respiratory diseases in Kuching

17 August 2006

published by thestar.com.my

Malaysia — The Sarawak General Hospital and government clinics here have reported a sharp jump in the number of respiratory tract infection cases as the air quality worsens. 

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the hospital and clinics were now treating some 200 cases daily of respiratory diseases, like asthma and conjunctivitis, up from the normal 40 to 50 cases. 

“The 200 cases per day is the alert level,” he told reporters after attending a briefing on the deteriorating haze from heads of relevant government departments and agencies at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here on Wednesday. 

He said the state education department had been asked to direct all schools to stop their outdoor activities. 

Some 1.3 million pieces of surgical masks are ready for distribution, particularly to people involved in vigorous outdoor work. 

The city’s air pollutant index (API) reading as of 7am yesterday was 154, up from 127 at 5pm on Wednesday. The visibility was at its lowest in recent days. 

Other badly hit towns were Samarahan and Sibu, which have API readings of 155 and 143 respectively. Poor visibility has forced some cancellations and delays to flights. 

Dr Chan, also the state disaster relief committee chairman, said there were 642 hotspots in Kalimantan, Indonesia and 75 statewide on Thursday. 

He advised Malaysian-oned plantation companies in Indonesia to stop open burning as the way to clearing land for planting in order to reduce the haze problem. 

“We have requested an aircraft from TUDM to do cloud seedings,” he added.


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