This number can still continue to increase."
Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - More than 28,000 people are suffering from various smoke-related diseases, due to forest and land fires occurring over the past five weeks in Riau Province.

Riau Provinces Health Service released figures on the latest number of people affected by haze here on Saturday.

According to the health service, 27,000 people are now suffering from upper respiratory track infections, 1,365 from skin diseases, 1,031 from asthma, 724 from eye irritations and 516 from chronic pneumonia.

"They are residents of Pekanbaru City where 6,543 are suffering from upper respiratory track infections, 118 from pneumonia, 370 from asthma, 70 have eye irritations and 353 are being treated for eye diseases," Riau Provinces Health Service Head Zainal Arifin said here on Saturday.

In Rokan Hilir District, 6,892 are suffering from upper respiratory track infections, 27 from pneumonia, 54 from eye diseases, and 83 have skin problems.

Others are residents of Siak District, where 2,283 have upper respiratory track problems, 62 are suffering from pneumonia, 86 from asthma, 92 have eye irritations and 158 from skin irritations.

In Bengkalis District, the haze has cause upper respiratory track infections in 2,194, pneumonia in 52 residents, 46 suffer from asthma, 54 have eye irritations and 86 with skin diseases.

"This number can still continue to increase," Zainal Arifin noted.

It was reported on Monday (Feb 24) that the number of upper respiratory tract infection cases due to haze pollution in the Riau Province has increased from 15 thousand to 20 thousand.

"The data on the number of upper respiratory tract infection sufferers has been collected from various districts in the province since January this year," Zainal Arifin stated.

He noted that in January, the number of people ailing from respiratory infections was five thousand. However, the number spiraled to 15.2 thousand sufferers last week and further rose to the current figure of 20 thousand.

Arifin claimed that this number excluded those suffering from other haze-related ailments, such as skin irritations and eye irritations, among others.

In the meantime, a Riau climatology official emphasized that the haze in the province will not disperse to Singapore and Malaysia, although a total of 1,234 hotspots have been detected.

On Monday, Ardhitama, an analyst from the local Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Pekanbaru, explained here that the smoke produced by the hotspots in the region will only pollute the air around the province.

He noted that winds blowing during the current dry season in Riau originated from the north and the east directions and were drifting towards the south, which is in the opposite direction of Singapore and Malaysia.

This morning, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 1,234 hotspots in Riau. This number is fewer than the 1,526 hotspots reported on June 23, 2013. During that time, the smoke rising from forest fires was dispersed by winds towards Singapore and Malaysia.

Riau province has suffered a loss of Rp10 trillion due to haze from forest and plantation fires, stated Viator Butar, the deputy chairman of the Riau Chamber of Commerce and Industrys Economic and International Cooperation Section.

"The Rp10 trillion loss was calculated, among other things, from the slowdown of business productivity and goods, the public's mobility, as well as the cancellation or postponement of flights and shipping due to haze," he explained.

The Riau provincial administration has declared a state of emergency following the expanding forest and plantation fires, mostly set deliberately to clear land for new plantations.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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