BANGKOK, 19 February 2012 – The Minister of Public Health has instructed the Disease Control Department to deliver sanitary masks to eight northern provinces being plagued by haze pollution in order to prevent local people from inhaling smoke and dust.
As the level of haze pollution in the North of Thailand currently exceeds the safety standard, Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri gave instruction for 50,000 pieces of sanitary masks to be sent to the provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Phrae, Nan and Phayao, where residents are encouraged to wear masks to avoid haze inhalation.
According to a survey conducted by the Disease Control Department during 5-11 February to monitor the number of haze-related sickness, a considerable increase of patients in three risk groups has been found. In comparison to the normal situation, the figure of heart and coronary patients grew by 23% to stand at 16,376. Meanwhile, the number of patients in the respiratory group rose by 7% to 21,319 while conjunctivitis saw a 47% patient increase to a total of 1,490. In the meantime, no case of skin disease has been reported yet.
However, Mr. Wittaya stated that it has not been confirmed that the haze pollution has fully contributed to the aforementioned figures, since those diseases might be induced by a number of other factors. A team of experts from the Department of Disease Control will be sent to the area for a more detailed study.