Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA) - Fires raging through land and forest areas in South Sumatra Province during the January-June 2019 period resulted in 274,502 people suffering from acute respiratory tract infection, a health officer stated.

Residents run the risk of suffering from the infection during the dry spell that induces land and forest fires in several parts of the province, Head of the South Sumatra Provincial Health Office Lesty Nuraini stated on Tuesday

"We have called on the local administration to provide health service facilities to residents as a precautionary measure against haze before the peak of the dry season," she revealed.

Nuraini noted that the South Sumatra provincial capital of Palembang is the worst-affected area, with 80,162 residents suffering from the infection over the period of time, followed by Banyuasin District, with 36,871 sufferers; Muara Enim District, with 35,405 patients; Musi Banyuasin District, with 21,871 cases; and Ogan Komering Ilir District, with 13,292 ailing.

Palembang, Ogan Ilir, Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin, Musi Banyuasin, and Lahat are highly prone to haze arising from land and forest fires, she pointed out.

"Palembang is not a source of smoke but is the worst-affected area as was experienced in 2015. The wind blew the smoke in OKI (Ogan Koering Ilir) and Organ Ilir in the direction of Palembang," she stated.

On a monthly basis, the number of acute respiratory tract infection sufferers was recorded at 44,142 in January; 50,837 in February; 54,237 in March; 54,409 in April; 40,459 in May; and 30,418 in June.

Nuraini drew attention to the fact that acute respiratory tract infections were caused not only by haze but also by virus attacking the respiratory system.

The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 192 hotspots indicating land and forest fires across Sumatra Island on Monday morning, a significant spike, from 13 hotspots on Sunday afternoon.

Of the total 192 hotspots, 156 were found in Riau Province, nine in South Sumatra, eight in Jambi, seven in Lampung, four each in North Sumatra and Bangka Belitung, three in Riau Island, and one in West Sumatra, Sanya Gautami, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology station, remarked here on Monday. Related news: Smog from forest fires shrouds Riau, West & Central Kalimantan

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Translator: Dolly Rosana, Suharto
Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti
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