Schools close due to haze

Everyone knows the haze situation is bad. We can see it. We can smell it. And many of us are feeling it, with a spike in the number of respiratory cases reported by medical practitioners in the past two weeks. 

Now, air pollutant indexes (API) hovering consistently in the unhealthy levels of 101-200 points. So Malaysia’s Ministry of Education has ordered more school closures in different parts of the country. 

This is to ensure that children who are considered to be at a greater risk of falling sick can stay at home and reduce their exposure to the pollution.

Long weekend “holiday” for more than 1.7 million students

Ministry of Education Malaysia Statement Screenshot

Image credit: Malaysia Ministry of Education (Figures as of 18th September 2019 evening)

According to a media statement released by the Education Ministry, Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan and Sarawak, will see 800 schools closed today, on 19th September 2019. 

States like Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Penang will see 1,659 schools closed today and tomorrow, 19th and 20th September 2019. 

The total number of students affected by the closure is 1,732,842 – that’s over 5% of Malaysia’s population. 

Other high-risk groups

Besides children, the elderly and those who have existing heart and lung diseases are at a greater risk of falling sick. Their conditions can also worsen because of exposure to the haze. 

A common condition caused by the haze is upper respiratory tract infections. The infections have cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat and dry coughs. And they occur due to irritation from inhaling polluted air. 

People can also experience conjunctivitis, where their eyes become red, itchy or swollen. Acute asthma attacks can also occur, with people experiencing difficulties breathing.

How to take care of yourself

N95 Mask Infographic

Image credit: Kenny Liew

Besides staying indoors as much as possible, with the air filters switched on, you should also drink lots of water and avoid strenuous exercise. 

If you need to head outdoors, wear an N95 mask. It’s the ideal type to filter out PM2.5 particles. These nano-sized dust and dirt are even smaller than the diameter of your hair. And studies say that they can enter the bloodstream and cause heart and lung diseases with prolonged exposure. 

Haze causes school closure

Post image
Image credit: u/totatree

While the haze may be caused by the dry season and some believe, plantation companies and farmers who are taking advantage of the weather to clear lands by setting forest fires, it is a well-documented fact that global warming and climate change play a part in all this too. 

So we shouldn’t put these factors under the microscope only when we experience haze. Instead, we should try to incorporate eco-friendly habits into our daily lives too. 

Spotify haze playlist

Meantime, we hope that all students enjoy their unexpected long weekend or “school holidays” and stay home and continue to study hard. If you need some music to help you cram for the upcoming exams, try grooving to Spotify’s Hazed & Confused playlist – the songs are lit. And the titles are #mood.

Cover image adapted from: u/totatree

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