Haze-related illnesses up by 40%, says health chief

Hotspots from forest fires and the spread of haze over South-East Asia.The Asean meteorological centre says haze from Kalimantan was blown towards Pahang and Terengganu. (ASMC pic)

LABUAN: The number of patients seeking treatments for conjunctivitis, asthma and skin rashes rose by 40% because of the prolonged haze air pollution crisis, according to the director-general of health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the increases in the number of cases varied at different stations: those with higher air pollution levels reported more frequent cases of respiratory infections, conjunctivitis and skin rashes.

Noor Hisham advised the public to stay indoors and reduce outdoor activities while the haze pollution persists.

“When going outside, it is necessary to take extra precautions. Use face masks and constantly wash your face and exposed parts of the body,’’ he said.

Labuan health director Dr Ismuni Bohari said there had been only a small increase of below 5% of haze-related illnesses on the island. Air pollution has been at moderate levels in Labuan.

‘Very unhealthy’ in Johan Setia, Klang, and unhealthy air in 43 other areas

Air pollution was at “very unhealthy” levels in Johan Setia, Klang, this evening, causing the suspension of classes in 30 schools in Kuala Langat and 27 schools in Klang. “Unhealthy” pollution readings were recorded in 43 areas of the country.

12 flights cancelled at Ipoh airport, visibility down to 2.5km

Twelve of 14 flights at Ipoh airport were cancelled today, with visibility reduced to only 2,500 metres at 6 pm.

Among the flights cancelled were Air Asia’s Johor Bahru-Ipoh-Singapore and Singapore-Ipoh-Johor Bahru routes; Malindo Air’s Johor Bahru-Ipoh-Johor Bahru route; and Singapore-based lowcost carrier FlyScoot’s Singapore-Ipoh-Singapore route.

Airport manager Mohd Ali Osman said 1,509 passengers were affected by the cancellation.

Easterly winds will blow haze away, says disaster centre

Easterly or northeast winds are expected to blow away transboundary haze from tonight or tomorrow night, according to the National Disaster Management Agency.

Cloud-seeding in Sarawak suspended

Cloud seeding operations would continue next week in haze-affected states in the Peninsula, depending on atmospheric conditions, while cloud-seeding in Sarawak have been discontinued because the predicted easterly winds are expected to bring rain.

Waterbombing of peat fires in Sarawak

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, which operates a Bombadier aircraft, carried out water bombing of forest and peat fires in Sri Aman, Sarawak and the fires have eased with firefighting also being carried out on land.

The peat fires burning in several areas in Sri Aman cover an area of about 10 acres (4.04 hectares).