500,000 face masks for Sarawak

PUTRAJAYA: The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) has sent 500,000 face masks to Sarawak amid worsening transboundary haze in the state.

The agency, in a statement here today, said it is currently monitoring the haze situation in Sarawak and other states due to forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatera in Indonesia.

“Nadma’s National Disaster Command Centre has issued a notice of readiness to all fire and rescue departments to prepare for haze operations,” the agency said.

“Nadma and the Ministry of Education (MOE) are also in the midst of coordinating the distribution of face masks to schools in the affected area.

“The decision to temporarily close the schools will be made by the MOE based on the current Air Pollutant Index (API) readings, as schools are generally advised to close when the API reading exceeds 200,” Nadma said.

Furthermore, Nadma said the agency and Royal Malaysia Air Force (TUDM) is prepared to assist Malaysia Metrological Department (MetMalaysia) to carry out the cloud seeding operations if there are sufficient clouds.

“Members of the public in areas with very unhealthy and unhealthy API readings are advised to reduce outdoor and physical activities, always wear a face mask if need to be at an open area, drink plenty of water and avoid open burning,” it said.

With API readings of over 200 for the last few days, people have resorted to wearing facemask outdoors in order to cope with the thick haze. Photo: Ramidi Subari

According to Nadma, Malaysia has sent a diplomatic note to Indonesia urging immediate action to fight the haze.

Yesterday, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) Minister Yeo Bee Yin also sent a letter of cooperation to the Indonesian Environmental Affairs and Forestry Ministry, while Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia, Zainal Abidin Bakar had met with Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry to discuss, among others, on the negative implication of haze to Malaysians.

The officials also discussed Malaysia’s willingness to cooperate and provide technical support as well as assistance if needed to address the issues of cross-border haze together as done in 1998 in Kalimantan and 2005 in Riau.

Nadma, however, said so far, there is no request for help from the Indonesian government to put out forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatera. – Bernama