60,000 health masks sent to smog-affected southern residents

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BANGKOK, July 2 – Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has distributed some 60,000 health masks to local residents in five southern provinces as smog from Indonesian forest fires has blanketed the region.

Public Health Minister Witthaya Buranasiri said that smog, an annual occurrence from forest fire on Indonesia’s Sumatra has covered five provinces in southern Thailand – Satun, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat — posing a health threat to local residents.

The public health ministry ordered local health centres and hospitals to be prepared to treat patients with respiratory problems, particularly those with heart diseases, allergy, asthma, the elderly and children.

The disease prevention and control office in Songkhla was instructed to dispatch 12,000 health masks to local people in each of the five provinces and to stockpile another 50,000 masks as the smog situation is unlikely to ease soon.

People are advised to refrain from outdoor activities and wear masks or cover their noses with wet cloths.