Unhealthy air quality persists in Kuching, Serian while Sri Aman returns to moderate levels

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File photo shows a hazy Kuching skyline observed from Citadines Uplands Kuching on August 16, 2023.

KUCHING (Sept 5): Kuching and Serian divisions continued to record unhealthy air quality while Sri Aman’s returned to moderate level as of 6pm today.

According to the Department of Environment’s Air Pollutant Index of Malaysia (APIMS) website, the API recorded in Kuching and Serian were both 153.

The readings were also the highest recorded in the country.

Shah Alam in Selangor, which clocked unhealthy status at 12pm, had a moderate API reading of 100 at 6pm.

Sri Aman’s API was 98 (moderate) at 10pm last night after recording unhealthy air quality since Friday. As of 6pm today, the API reading was 100.

The API in Samarahan on the other hand kept rising, hitting 100 at 11am and 12pm before dropping to 97 at 6pm.

Elsewhere in Sarawak, Limbang division recorded the lowest API reading at 57, Kapit (63), Mukah (68), Sibu and Bintulu (69), Miri and ILP Miri (73) and Samalaju (75).

According to the APIMS website, unhealthy API is for readings from 101 to 200. It can worsen the health condition of high-risk people who is the people with heart and lung complications.

Meanwhile, the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in its latest weather and haze outlook on Sept 5 said there continues to be a slight risk of transboundary haze occurrence over the bordering areas of West Kalimantan and western Sarawak.

It said the weather is forecast to remain generally dry over many parts of the southern Asean region in the coming days, although a brief respite of shower activities is forecast for some parts of Kalimantan.

Based on the overnight satellite imagery, scattered hotspots emanating moderate smoke haze were detected and observed in western and southern Kalimantan.

Meanwhile, Tribun Pontianak reported there were 525 cases of acute respiratory infections in West Kalimantan last week.

Head of the West Kalimantan Province Health Service (Kadiskes) Erna Yulianti was quoted as saying the cases might increase in the coming days due to the open burning and dry weather in the province.

Pontianak Post on the other hand reported that schools in the Ketapang Regency of West Kalimantan have been ordered to be closed due to the very unhealthy air quality.

Indonesian-based Metro TV also reported that fires in oil palm areas were becoming increasingly common in West Kalimantan whereby the smoke threatens the residents’ health.

It also said efforts to extinguish the fires are being done on land and by air.

Quoting the local Regional Disaster Management Agency, it said the location of fires are difficult to reach and lack water sources.