GEORGE TOWN: All 111 schools on the island's northeast district have been asked to close at noon on Wednesday (Sept 18).
This includes primary and secondary schools along with vocational colleges.
The order was issued only at 10.15am after the hourly update of the Air Pollutant Index (API) showed that the district's API had shot up to 203 from 197 an hour earlier.
Parents and school bus drivers were requested to pick up the children early.
At 7am, the API in the southwest district, where Balik Pulau and Bayan Lepas are located, reached 204, and all 51 schools in the district were ordered to close.
Balik Pulau's API rose to 232 by 10am.
Meanwhile, a check on a local pharmacy showed that the sale of N95 masks had increased by 300% this month alone.
Wellings Pharmacy operations manager Kong Pei Pei in Pulau Tikus gave assurances that there were still enough in the retail market and the pharmacy was ordering more.
Health Ministry had earlier advised people going outside to wear N95 masks, which is said to offer better protection from the haze than surgical masks.