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Title: More people facing respiratory problems
Date: 11-Aug-2005
Category: Malaysia
Source/Author: New Straits Times (Malaysia)
Description: This article illustrates an impact from the smoke haze in Malaysia. A few tips to maintain health and reduce the haze's impact on healt is included.

There will be a health crisis in certain parts of the country if the haze continues.

University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) respiratory division head Prof Dr Liam Chong Kim said more people are facing upper respiratory problems which might lead to fainting spells.

"As of today, there has been a five per cent increase in patients being treated for severe asthma attack," he said here today. The number could skyrocket in two weeks to a month, he added.

The Air Pollutant Index here was 349 at 11am and 326 at 6pm.

API readings of zero to 50 indicate good air quality, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, 301 to 500 hazardous, and above 500 dangerous.

There could also be more incidents of people fainting as the air is filled with unhealthy gases like carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide.

"This is the first time we are experiencing the haze at a hazardous level and we do not know the effects of long term exposure," he said.

He advised Malaysians to stay indoors to reduce inhalation of pollutants. 

SEVERE ATTACK: Gurmeet Kaur receiving treatment for asthma attack from trauma and emergency centre staff nurse Murni Samion. Her sons, Jagmeet Singh, 13 (right) and his twin Sarabmeet Singh are also undergoing treatment for asthma attack.

"Staying indoors reduces direct breathing of bigger pollutants. But the finer particles still infiltrate buildings," he said, adding that finer particles could cause asthma attacks.

A visit to the UMMC at 11am saw the entire out-patient clinic filled with patients.

The New Straits Times spoke to several patients seeking treatment for respiratory problems, eye infection, skin problems and the common cold.

Due to overwhelming response, the hospital has set up a 24-hour emergency operations room at the trauma and emergency centre to cater to the increasing number of patients.

Head of trauma and emergency centre Dr Abdul Ali Raja Muhamad advised Malaysians to drink more than 2.5 litres of water daily, gargle with salt water, wash their face frequently and keep the nostrils clean.


Author(s) Minderjeet Kaur
Website (URL) http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/Friday/Frontpage/20050812074432/Article/indexb_html

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