If the smog condition worsens, we will extend the holiday period."
Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Over 12,260 inhabitants of Riau Province have fallen ill due to the haze triggered by forest, peatland, and plantation fires flaring up in the province.

The data was obtained from patients seeking medical treatments at community health centers and hospitals in Riau from June 29 to September 7, 2015, Andra Sjafril, the head of the Riau health center, noted here recently.

Of the total number, 2,160 were the inhabitants of Pekanbaru, 2,038 of Dumai City, and 1,044 of Bengkalis District.

As many as 324 people were suffering from severe pneumonia, 315 ailing from asthma, 879 suffering from eye irritation, and 1,256 from skin irritation.

At least 222,100 face masks have been distributed to the local residents across Riau Province.

The authorities have advised people in Riau to stay indoors, to wear face masks while venturing outdoors, and to stay amply hydrated and eat nutritious food to stay healthy amid the haze problem.

In the meantime, thick smog caused by forest and land fires in Sumatra Island has forced the Payakumbuh city government in West Sumatra to announce a three-day holiday for the local students.

"The haze disaster has reached an emergency response level. Therefore, in order to safeguard the health of the students, we gave them a three-day off," Head of Payakumbuh City Governments Educational Affairs Hasan Basri informed reporters recently.

Basri pointed out that the holiday period could be extended if the haze condition deteriorated.

"We are monitoring the situation until Thursday. If the smog condition worsens, we will extend the holiday period," he affirmed.

Prior to the decision, several heads of schools, including those from the early childhood education center (PAUD) and kindergartens, had requested the city governments permission to allow their students to stay at home, he remarked.

Speaking about the air quality in the city, Head of Payakumbuhs Environmental Affairs Syamsurial noted that the Pollution Standard Index (PSI) board revealed on Monday that the PSI reached a level of 190 mg/m3, or "unhealthy."

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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