There has been an increase in the number of complaints from residents of Palembang, South Sumatra, over acute respiratory infection problems, following recent haze from forest fires that blanketed the city, say local health officials.
The Palembang Health Office says the number of sufferers has increased significantly between July and August.
During the first week of August, the number of sufferers rose by 1.7 percent from the previous month, to 7,831 people.
To prevent from more cases of respiratory problems, the local health office has been distributing face masks to motorists on the citys main streets.
Health office head Gema Asiani said besides cases of respiratory ailments, residents had also complained about eye and skin irritations, as well as diarrhea caused by the dangerously high levels of particulates within the haze affecting their digestive systems.
Among the districts seeing a sharp increase in respiratory complaints were Bukit Kecil and West Ilir I and II, she said.
Based on our studies with the local environment office, we believe the haze has affected [the city] beyond its limit, Gema said.
Therefore, there should be anticipatory measures to prevent more cases of respiratory problems. Residents suffering from these problems should visit community health centers for treatment.
Gema said the haze likely came from forest fires in Palembang and neighboring areas, including Ogan Ilir and Banyuasin regencies, where hot spots have been detected.
The haze had also disrupted flights at Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II Airport in Palembang. The South Sumatra Environment Office says 617 hot spots were detected from Sept. 5-8, mostly in peatland areas across the province.