The deteriorating air quality in Pekanbaru is inching to a very unhealthy level, compelling Mayor Firdaus to instruct state and private health facilities across the city to handle and care for residents ailing from smog-related health issues.
"We urge Puskesmas in each sub-district to go on standby to handle residents suffering from acute respiratory tract infection (ISPA) as a result of the smog," Firdaus noted in Pekanbaru on Saturday.
The 21 Puskesmas are bracing for a state of emergency over land and forest fires.
"They are on standby round-the-clock," he stated.
The mayor confirmed to have written to all sub-district heads in Pekanbaru to inform the public regarding several steps to be taken over the degrading air quality.
He has issued a warning to the public to not set fire to garbage, bush, and idle land that may lead to air pollution in the city.
He also appealed to the city residents to curtail outdoor activities.
Related news: Air-polluting forest fire hotspots in Riau reach 154
The air quality in Pekanbaru and some regions in Riau has reached a hazardous level due to thick smog emanating from the forest fires. Until 3 p.m. local time on Friday, the smog continued to envelop Pekanbaru.
The forest fire-induced air pollution compelled some residents to evacuate to other cities along with their families.
"We decided to evacuate to Jakarta, as we cannot stand the haze (in Pekanbaru)," Sylviawati, a 27-year-old resident, stated at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Friday.
On Friday morning, visibility in the city had reduced to merely 300 meters.
The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) station in Pekanbaru had detected 1,319 hotspots suggestive of forest fires across Sumatra Island at 6 a.m. local time Friday.
The Indonesian government is planning to apply several measures to tackle land and forest fires in several parts of the country.
"The first step is to strengthen the Manggala Agni fire brigade," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto noted on Friday after attending a special ministerial meeting to contain forest and land fires in Jakarta.
Taking cognizance of this fact, the number of fire brigade personnel equipped with fire extinguishers will be increased, he stated.
The government will also prepare cloud-seeding operations to induce rain.
EDITED BY INE
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