KUCHING: Over the weekend, there was a huge spike in the number of hotspots detected in Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo.
On Saturday, a total of 190 hotspots were detected in all four provinces of Kalimantan.
It was the second highest number of hotspots this month after the 312 detected on Aug 19. The third highest was 174 on Aug 11.
In comparison, the number of detected hotspots in Sarawak and Sabah last Saturday was three.
Hotspot activities were elevated in Kalimantan and Sumatra, said the latest report from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre based in Singapore.
"Scattered hotspots with moderate smoke haze continued to be visible in southern and eastern Kalimantan. Although the hotspot count was low in Sumatra due to cloud cover, moderate smoke haze were observed in central and southern Sumatra."
It reported four zones of moderate haze each on Kalimantan and Sumatra.
It noted the peak of the burning activities is usually in Aug and Sept, and in a seasonal Aug-Oct report, urged for vigilance to be stepped up for any escalation of fire activities.
"The prevailing El-Nino is projected to persist into early 2016, and is likely to strengthen in the coming months," according to the centre's outlook.
At 1pm Monday, Air Pollution Index (API) readings showed 30 monitoring stations in Malaysia in the moderate 51-100 zone.
Among the highest were Pelabuhan Kelang and Banting at 76. It was 58 for Kuching, with visibility at 6km. A day before, visibility was only 3km in the Sarawak capital.
The Sarawak Health Department issued an advisory on Sunday calling for more to take precautions.
"Stay indoors as much as possible and cut down on strenuous outdoor activities," said department director Dr Zulkifli Jantan, adding those prone to asthma attacks or with respiratory infections to be extra careful.
“Respiratory masks should be worn by all motorcyclists, people working outdoors (or those working in dusty environments) and those in the high risks groups who have to go outside.
"With dry weather, those with poor personal hygiene can get diarrhoea diseases. It is important to observe and practise good personal hygiene at all times," he said.