Haze causes more sickness in Riau

Haze causes more sickness in Riau
PHOTO: AFP

The Riau Health Agency says as many as 25,524 residents from 12 different regencies and municipalities have suffered from illnesses caused by haze from forest fires, which has blanketed the province since the beginning of September.

The agency's head Andra Sjafril said that 20,901 people had suffered from respiratory illness; 1,920 from skin irritations; 1,356 from eye irritations; 893 from asthma; and 454 from pneumonia.

"All of them are receiving out-patient medical services. Pekanbaru has the largest number of patients, followed by Kuantan Singingi and Siak regencies. Meranti Islands regency has the lowest number of patients," said Andra.

Riau acting governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman declared an air-pollution emergency for the province on Monday due to the thick haze from land and forest fires that has blanketed the area since the beginning of September.

Commenting on the recently declared air-pollution emergency status for Riau, Andra said that he had prohibited all doctors and paramedics from leaving the province for indefinite period.

"I have also discussed with the Military Region Command (Korem) 031/Wira Bima and the Riau Police the possibility of using their health workers if we face a shortage of medical professionals at our health posts," he said.

"Every healthcare facility and health post must have a doctor. Treating victims of haze requires medicines and they can only be prescribed by a doctor," said Andra.

He also said that Riau was facing a shortage of face masks. It was proving difficult for the province to source masks because five other provinces are facing similar smoke problems.

"We still have around 40,000 masks. We have asked for more supplies from the government but they have not yet come through," said Andra.

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