Haze hits Johoreans’ respiratory systems

Bad air: API readings in Larkin, Johor Baru, recorded a reading of 152 yesterday.

JOHOR BARU: More people in Johor have suffered from conjunctivitis, upper respiratory tract illness (URTI) and asthma since haze shrouded the country late last month, says state exco Ling Tian Soon.

Ling, who is in charge of the state’s health and unity committee, said two districts – Johor Baru and Batu Pahat – had consistently recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings of more than 101 points in the past week.

“This has led to more people facing health complications such as conjunctivitis, which recorded 45 cases in the past week or epidemiology week (ME) 40.”

The number, he said, was a 73% increase compared with the 26 cases recorded the week before (ME39) when there was no haze.

“A total of 82 asthma cases have been reported to the Health Department in ME40 compared with 52 cases in the week before,” he said in a press conference yesterday to give updates about the current health situation.

Ling said URTI cases rose from 1,174 cases to 1,528 cases during the same period.

“Those affected include children, especially in asthma cases. However, the patients mostly required outpatient treatment with no hospitalisation needed,” he said.

As of 3pm yesterday, the MyIPU app showed that Larkin in Johor Baru recorded an API reading of 152. Batu Pahat had a reading of 159.

Air quality is deemed unhealthy if the API reading is between 101 and 200, and very unhealthy if it is between 201 and 300.

An API of more than 300 means the air quality has become hazardous.

Ling said the Environment Department had forecast the air quality to worsen in those two areas but he hoped that the health situation would not deteriorate further.

He assured the people that all government agencies, including the Health Department, had their own standard operating procedures for haze management, so there was no need to worry.

“The public, especially those with respiratory issues, is advised to avoid outdoor activities. Wear a face mask when you head out.

“Take care of yourself and drink lots of plain water to prevent symptoms such as coughs, sore throats and headaches,” he added.

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