Hospitals on ‘haze standby’

Hospitals on ‘haze standby’

23 October 2010

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Malaysia —  Government hospitals and clinics have been told to be on standby to treat more people with haze related-illnesses if the air quality remains poor.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the haze, which appeared in the past few days, had caused some people especially in Muar to have cough, eye irritation, asthma and respiratory illnesses.

“We have been told that the dry spell is expected to continue until the end of the month. So, we may have to be ready to treat more people especially those seeking outpatient treatment,” he told reporters after attending a ground-breaking ceremony for a RM33mil health clinic here yesterday.

Liow said cloud seeding would have to be carried out if the dry spell persisted.

“At the moment, the areas where the Air Pollutant Index (API) was above 100 in Johor yesterday included Larkin, Pasir Gudang and Kota Tinggi,” he said, urging the public to take precautionary measures including wearing masks, washing their hands often, drinking more water and also bathing regularly.

“We are also distributing posters and leaflets to the public about the precautionary measures,” he said, adding that the haze was due to about 300 hotspots in Indonesia.

“We have offered our assistance. We are working with the Asean secretariat to resolve the problem.”

In Petaling Jaya, Department of Environment director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said the situation in Malacca had improved to moderate level, similar to the condition in Muar.

She said the haze problem had slightly improved through the years.

“It has not been as bad as the one in 1997 when visibility was so poor,” she told The Star yesterday.

She also said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had

written to its counterpart in Indonesia to express concern over the matter.

“However, we must also realise that Indonesia is a big country and it is not easy to monitor,” she said.

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