JOHOR BAHRU: Fourteen more schools in Pasir Gudang will shut temporarily after cases of breathing difficulties and vomiting were reported in the area on Sunday (Jun 23) morning.
The schools will close for four days starting Monday.
They are all within a 6-km radius of Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar, where 15 students suffered breathing difficulties believed to be caused by air pollution in the area on Thursday.
The closure will bring the number of schools closed to 17, including the three schools which were ordered to shut on Saturday.
Johor Health, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar named the schools involved in the new closure and said the decision would affect more than 20,000 students.
"Also involved are public educational institutions, Johor government religious schools, all pre-schools and kindergartens,” he told reporters.
The decision to close the schools, involving 20,108 students, was a precautionary measure after breathing difficulties and vomiting was reported again in the area at 11am on Sunday, he said.
In the latest incident, firefighters rushed to the scene after receiving a call and screened students with early symptoms of shortness of breath and nausea, he added.
“Up until 3.30pm, 13 victims have been referred to the Sultan Ismail Hospital and were in stable condition and 49 were receiving treatment at a temporary clinic at the Pasir Gudang Municipal Council Indoor Stadium and Pasir Gudang Health Clinic,” said Mohd Khuzzan.
To date, Malaysia's Department of Environment and other agencies are working to identify the true cause of the incident, he added.
“The victims’ blood tests so far showed everything negative," said the official. "All normal, no indication of toxic effects."
Most of the affected students were on the third and fourth floors of their school buildings, including the cases on Thursday, he added.