30%-40% more seek treatment in govt clinics because of haze

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye and Penang Health Department director Dr Asmayani Khalib at the Penang Hospital in George Town today.

GEORGE TOWN: The government today said there has been a 30% to 40% increase in patients seeking medical treatment at government health clinics nationwide because of the haze.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the rate of increase was based on those seeking treatment at 22 selected government health clinics nationwide during the past week compared to the week before.

He said the patients had sought treatment for upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), conjunctivitis and acute asthma attacks.

URTI includes symptoms such as cold, runny nose, sore or scratchy throat and painful swallowing.

“If you are going outdoors, please wear an N95 mask to protect yourself. Surgical masks would not do as it would not filter out micro particles. The micro particles are causing harm, not the smell of the air.

“We urge children and the elderly to stay indoors as much as possible and take extra precaution,” Lee told reporters at the Penang Hospital today.

The haze that has been enveloping several parts of the country over the past fortnight has raised health concerns and worries over its impact on tourism and the economy.

Sri Aman in Sarawak hit a “hazardous” reading of 367 on the air pollutant index (API) today, the highest recorded since the current spell of haze began.

An API reading of 0-50 shows good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy; 201-300 very unhealthy, and over 300 hazardous.

In the peninsula, Johan Setia in Klang had “very unhealthy” air quality with an API reading of 233.

The tourist district of Port Dickson, which saw classes at all 63 of its schools suspended this morning, also recorded a “very unhealthy” API reading of 202.

The API in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, also breached the 200 mark while Melaka, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur remained at “unhealthy” levels.

More than 100 schools in Sepang, Hulu Langat, Klang and Petaling Perdana in Selangior were closed today, affecting nearly 188,000 students.