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Haze in Malaysia: Air quality hits hazardous level in Sarawak; nearly 650 schools close in several states

Haze in Malaysia: Air quality hits hazardous level in Sarawak; nearly 650 schools close in several states

All schools in Port Dickson were suspended on Sep 17, 2019 after air quality worsened in the district. (Photo: Bernama)

SEREMBAN: A total of 648 schools in Malaysia were ordered to close on Tuesday (Sep 17) due to the worsening haze.  

This affected nearly 450,000 students in Sarawak, Selangor, Putrajaya and Negeri Sembilan, said a statement by the Ministry of Education. 

In the east Malaysian state of Sarawak, air quality reached hazardous levels on Tuesday. Sri Aman district was the worst hit, with an Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of 389 at 6pm. 

An API reading of zero to 50 indicates good air quality; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.

READ: 'Very unhealthy' air quality in various parts of Malaysia, including Putrajaya

In Port Dickson, where the API exceeded the 200 mark in the morning, students from all 63 schools were told not to turn up for classes, said chairman of the State Action Committee on Investment, Industry, Entrepreneurship, Education and Human Capital Mohamad Rafie Ab Malek.

“However, teachers must attend school, but must put on (a) face mask to protect (themselves) from the haze,” he said

Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim urged residents to cut down on outdoor activities. 

"Outdoor physical activities, especially for the elderly and children, should be reduced in areas with bad haze," he said in a statement.

“People are also encouraged to wear face masks to reduce haze’s effect on health."

In Selangor, a total of 201 schools were closed because of the haze. API readings there are in the higher end of the unhealthy band.

The National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), which is monitoring the haze situation in the country, said cloud seeding will be carried out in Sarawak on or after Sep 19, subject to weather and cloud conditions.

A state of haze emergency will be declared when the API exceeds 500, it added.

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