KUALA LUMPUR: In light of the hot weather and haze simultaneously affecting the country, Malaysia’s Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa has advised the public to limit their time outdoors and to mask up.
Dr Zaliha also advised the public to limit vigorous physical activity during the hot and hazy season as it could increase the risk of illness.
“At the moment, our country is being hit by hot weather, affecting the air quality and ambient temperature in some areas,” she said in a statement issued on Wednesday (Apr 19).
The air pollution index (API) readings of above 100 are considered unhealthy, while levels above 200 are regarded as very unhealthy. Readings in excess of 300 are usually considered hazardous.
As of 4pm on Wednesday, all 68 areas in the country that have air index measuring stations were reported to have moderate readings of between 51 and 100.
Local media, citing API readings on Tuesday night, had earlier reported that 11 locations were experiencing unhealthy air quality. On Wednesday, however, none of the locations was in the unhealthy air quality range.
In her statement on Wednesday, Dr Zaliha advised the public to close their windows to prevent haze particles from entering their homes or buildings and to avoid activities such as smoking that could increase indoor air pollutants.
The health minister also advised people to choose the internal air circulation mode when using air conditioning while driving and to drink at least eight glasses of water a day to maintain the body’s hydration level.
Dr Zaliha also urged the public to bathe often to cool down and to avoid wearing thick, tight, and dark-coloured clothing to hasten the process of losing heat from the body.
“If you are able to, use air conditioners and air filters at home to filter fine particles and to prevent the entry of polluted air from the outside,” she said.
Last Saturday, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad reportedly said that the haze was caused by peat fires and open burning in several areas in the country.
"The haze is not happening only in Malaysia but in countries in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.