A total of 1,658 schools in KL, Selangor, Putrajaya and Penang have been ordered to close for two days from tomorrow (Thursday, 19 September) as the general air quality drops to ‘very unhealthy’ levels due to the worsening haze.
The Ministry of Education issued a statement authorising schools to announce the closure of schools if the haze worsens. The headmasters are required to notify their respective state education departments and district education offices prior.
The ministry said that if the pupils or students were at the schools at the time that they were declared closed, they could continue their classes as usual until the end of the school session unless there was a request from parents to take their children home.
Teachers were also given the option to work from home if their schools were involved in the closure, the statement added.
Meanwhile, a total of 119 schools in Kulim Bandar Baharu, Kedah, 147 schools in Larut, Matang and Selama, Perak as well as 53 schools in Nilai, Labu and Mantin in Negeri Sembilan will also be closed tomorrow after the API readings in the respective areas exceeded 200, which is classified as ‘very unhealthy’.
At the time of writing, Kuching and Kuala Lumpur are listed as cities with the lowest air quality rating on the IQAir live air quality ranking.
Everyone may experience serious health effects
The Air Pollution Index (API) is a general way to describe air quality. The index measures levels of carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide to determine if the quality of the air we breath has any effects on our health.
The index is categorised into six levels with an API reading of 0-50 being considered satisfactory and a reading of 301-500 being declared a state of emergency.
An API reading of above 200 may cause serious health effects to everyone exposed to the polluted air for more than a few hours.
The worsening haze situation has also forced six flights at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Ipoh to be cancelled, affecting 1,418 passengers.
Besides that, 19 flights to and from the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas Penang, were also cancelled due to low visibility.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) said the Malaysian Meteorological Department had predicted there would be moderate to thick haze in several areas around Malaysia until September 19 affecting visibility in Sarawak, West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the East Coast of Sabah.
According to the Malaysian Air Pollution Index Management System (APIMS) portal, as of 6 pm today, nine locations recorded very unhealthy API readings namely Petaling Jaya (207), Shah Alam (216), Nilai (210), Sri Aman (228), Kuching (215) , Johan Setia Klang (258), Balik Pulau (257), Minden (230) and Kulim (206).
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar said six hotspots had been detected in forest reserves in the Peninsula.
He said the Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia had detected six hot spots on Sept 17 and 18, namely three in Johor, two in Pahang and one in Terengganu.
100% increase in face mask sales
Meanwhile, the sale of face masks in Malaysia has increased significantly as the public are taking precautionary measures, as the haze enveloping the country shows no signs of abating.
Guardian Health And Beauty Sdn Bhd marketing director for Southeast Asia DY Cho said the company recorded over a 100% increase in face mask sales in the first 17 days of September compared with the whole month of August. — Malay Mail