Public Health Ministry: Number of haze-related patients in the North quintupled

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BANGKOK, 9 March 2012  – The Public Health Ministry has reported that the number of patients in Thailand’s North, who suffered haze-related illnesses, has surged at an unusual rate.

 

Deputy Public Health Minister, Dr. Surawit Khonsomboon, revealed on Thursday that the ministry has urged all health offices in the northern region to do their best in coping with the impact of ongoing haze.

Forest fire-induced haze and small dust particles have been covering a broad area of the North for weeks and the crisis seems far from over.

Dr. Surawit stated that all offices are to work harder to keep small dust particles below the 300-micrograms-per-cubic-meter level, which can pose very severe harm to the health of the public.

For the time being, the Deputy Health Minister is urging residents in haze-hit areas to keep their doors and windows shut to prevent dust from entering their homes, using face masks when outside, and avoiding outdoor exercises.

According to Dr. Surawit, several weeks of higher-than-safety-standards dust particles have caused the number of patients with asthma and respiratory problems to increase fivefold from the normal level.

Meanwhile, M.L. Panadda Diskul, Governor of Chiang Mai, said that the haze crisis in the northern part of the country remains critical while the artificial rain making has slightly eased the problem.

However, he is hopeful that the expected arrival of summer storm during the weekend may help lessen the haze.

In addition, the City Hall has allocated THB27,000 to 126 sub-districts in the province to urgently control slash-and-burn farming and other open-air burning activities, in the hope of keeping the haze crisis under control.