Schools, hospitals on haze alert

Schools, hospitals on haze alert

17 June 2012

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 Malaysia – KUALA LUMPUR: With the haze situation worsening overnight, especially in the Klang Valley, the Education Ministry has advised schools to stop all outdoor activities as soon as the Air Pollutant index (API) breaches the ‘very unhealthy’ mark of 200.

The health Ministry has also told government hospitals to be on alert to handle an expected rise in respiratory and eye problems.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), as at 5pm yesterday, API readings in seven areas in the Klang Valley were at unhealthy levels — Port Klang (140), Shah Alam (128), Petaling Jaya (130), Banting (116) and Kuala Selangor (101) in Selangor, and Cheras (130) and Batu Muda (Jalan ipoh) (127) in Kuala Lumpur.

The department classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as ‘good’, 51-100 as ‘moderate’, 101-200 as ‘unhealthy’, 201-300 as ‘very unhealthy’, and more than 301 as ‘hazardous’.

The DOE said the worsening haze was due to forest fires in north and central Sumatra, indonesia.

In Penang, Deputy Prime Minister tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said schools must strictly follow the haze guidelines issued earlier.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said schools need to monitor and adhere to updates issued by the Meteorological Department and health Ministry.

“they should stop all outdoor activities such as sports if the situation worsens and the public should also refrain from outdoor activities. hopefully, the situation will not be prolonged,” he said.

Education director-general Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mahmud said a circular had been sent to schools calling on them to adhere to the haze guidelines.

“The department will only decide whether to close schools when the API approaches 300. An operations room has been set up in Putrajaya to monitor the situation.”

In Kuantan, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said all hospitals and clinics had been ordered to make the necessary preparations.

He also advised the public to check the latest API readings and take precautionary measures if their areas were badly affected by haze.

“Those with respiratory problems should avoid outdoor activities and wear face masks if they want to go outside. The people should also drink plenty of water during this period,” he said after witnessing the handing over of eight ambulances to the Pahang Health Department yesterday.

Liow said his ministry was working closely with the DOE in monitoring the situation and would take immediate action if the haze worsened due to the ongoing dry spell.

Based on previous experience, he said the number of people seeking outpatient treatment for upper-respiratory and eye infections would increase.

“Therefore, hospitals and clinics should find ways to reduce the waiting time and ensure that patients can be treated efficiently and effectively.”

On the new ambulances, he said a total of 300 such vehicles would be handed over to other states this year as part of the ministry’s effort to achieve its target of having 2,500 ambulances nationwide by next year.

At present, he said there were 1,861 ambulances all over the country which could be despatched to areas within 30 minutes needing them.

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